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In May, 2006, I made my first visit to New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast since they were ravaged by hurricane Katrina. Spending three days there with a rental car, I drove around the damaged and undamaged parts of New Orleans, into St. Bernard Parish as far as Meraux and along the Mississippi coast from Lakeshore to Biloxi, having to detour back to the interstate at Bay St. Louis and then back to the coast west of Long Beach due to a missing bridge. The amount of destruction was remarkable but soon began to look normal since that is all there was in some areas. I drove 35 miles along the Mississippi coast and did not see one intact home within two blocks of the beach. There was nothing much left until I got close to Biloxi. In large parts of New Orleans, the houses were all still there looking at you with blank windows, possibly open front doors and garage doors, waist high weeds in the yards, dead shrubbery and water marks on the columns of houses at the different levels the water stayed at for any length of time. This was true for well-to-do neighborhoods and not so well-to-do ones. The flooding did not discriminate.
In New Orleans, I really only touched the surface of the badly damaged areas by going into the Lakeview area west of the City Park and the area to the east of the City Park. I drove form Uptown along Claiborne avenue to Elysian Fields and did not see any of the small business that used to be there open. Perhaps I missed some brave soul who has repaired the flood damage, but it couldn't have been many. On my way to and from St. Bernard Parish, I drove through the now famous Lower Ninth Ward on both St. Claude Ave. and N. Claiborne Ave. where there was considerable damage but not the total destruction that occurred at the Industrial Canal flood wall break that took out that part of the neighborhood and which is a favorite of any TV crew that is in town. At the time, I wasn't sure of the exact location of that area, so I have no photos.. I also didn't drive into the Gentilly or New Orleans East areas of heavy flooding. I did see the New Orleans East area from the Interstate on my way to Mississippi. It looked to me that about half of New Orleans was very seriously damaged and not being repaired at present. However, almost all major traffic lights were working, and the streets had been cleared of debris. There were a lot of missing street signs, though.
In New Orleans, in the flooded areas the houses still exist. They are just not livable at present (if ever). In Mississippi, within two block of the coast, there is nothing. And I mean nothing.
I took 600 photos on this trip using a Nikon D100 digital camera with an AF-S Nikkor 24mm - 120mm lens. Almost all the photos of damage were taken from the car window. The photos of undamaged areas of New Orleans -- the French Quarter, the Garden District and Uptown were mostly taken while on foot. For the slide show, I reduced the images from 3008 x 2000 pixels to 812 x 540 pixels. The slide show consists of 117 of these images. None of the images has been retouched other than to resize it and add my name to the lower right-hand corner. If you have any comments, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I included the photos of the undamaged areas to show that not all of New Orleans is in a dire way and to encourage you to visit, because they need your business. The food is still great and most of the old places and beautiful homes are still there.
A final note: If your screen resolution is set to less than about 1000 pixels vertically, to see the bottom part of vertically oriented images along with their descriptions you will have to scroll the browser window down. Possibly you will also need to do this for the horizontal ones if your resolution is set low.
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