September 27, 2007

New Orleans & The Hurricane Katrina Tour

The most direct route to New Orleans from our campground in Robert was to travel across The Lake Ponchartrain Causeway. At almost 24 miles in length, the parallel bridges which form the causeway are the longest bridges in the world.

For the privilege of crossing the longest bridge in the world, you must pay $3 going into New Orleans. In 1999 the toll was eliminated for the trip across the bridge FROM New Orleans (it was $1.50 each way before that).

Here is one of the Historic New Orleans Streetcars available to transport you through the city.

We went on a 9 am Gray Line "Hurricane Katrina tour". The four hour tour gave us fairly up close and personal looks at the remains of the devastation that happened two years ago.

The tour guide kept us informed with details of her personal experience with Katrina, as well as updating us on the progress of the neighborhoods which we drove through.

Here was one of the first items of interest the tour passed...the Louisiana Superdome as it appeared after Katrina...

and the Superdome as it appears today.

This was the first of many houses which provided an illustration of the rescue attempts during the Katrina aftermath.

Each time rescue workers approached a house, they marked it with an X (or one diagonal of an X). In the top, they wrote the date. An indication of who searched the house was put on the left. This would often be initials of a state such as AZ for Arizona National Guard. On the bottom, they would indicate the number of bodies found...in this case, 0. In the right hand side of the X they would put any hazards anyone else coming to the house should be aware of such as missing staircases, etc. When they left the house, they would mark the other diagonal of the X to indicate that they were not still inside. On the right hand door you can see "ho" which is the beginning of the word "hole". This apparently means people in the house were rescued through a hole in the roof.

Many of the neighborhoods were filled with street after street of houses still unoccupied. Some streets would have work being done on about every other house...other streets would have work being done on about 1 house in 10. Still other streets appeared to be totally abandoned.

On the tour, places were pointed out where the flood wall around the city broke.

The still damaged abandoned homes ranged from very small shotgun style houses to houses worth over $500,000 pre-Katrina.

In most neighborhoods almost all stores are still closed. Whole strip malls for miles going down major streets are abandoned.

These are some of the FEMA trailers provided to those who are working on restoring their homes.

Many house structures are still sound, but have to gutted from the inside out and completely redone.

The Botanical Gardens was a brief stop on The Katrina Tour.

Another less-horrific casualty of Hurricane Katrina was Six Flags Over New Orleans. Six Flags has decided that the New Orleans proper population, which was 460,000 and is now estimated to be 250,000, is not enough to support a park. All useful rides have already been moved to other locations around the country. What remains is considered scrap metal.

This is an example of a Katrina Cottage costing about $75,000 which is about the amount the federal government is paying for the FEMA trailers, which in our opinion probably retail for $20,000! To our understanding, because of governmental red tape, it proved more difficult to get a Katrina Cottage than a trailer even though they were costing the government the same amount of money.

Marlon captured part of Katrina Tour on video below.

For more pictures of the Katrina Tour, go to http://public.fotki.com/Marlonfleenor/1/2007/september/neworleanshurricane/ .

To be continued...

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