And on the West Bank...
Several times a year - for twenty years - I’ve been coming back to New Orleans to visit friends and my “second family”. I’ve been back for weddings, funerals, Mardi Gras, St. Patty’s Day, and just because. And for twenty years, I’ve looked at the city but not seen.
This time, I saw… and it broke my heart.
I expected the devastation across the river, and while it’s true that the full magnitude of the disaster can’t be appreciated without driving (and driving and driving) through miles of abandoned and damaged neighborhoods, that was, at least, a known entity. It didn’t prepare me for the West Bank.
Algiers – for how long has street after street been falling apart? You can’t even drive down McArthur without an off-roader! And what’s with the bottom end of Kabel Drive???
There are blocks of blighted, abandoned buildings along Gen. Meyer – never the best street even 20 years ago. Now, it’s like a war zone. Yes, some of it is attributable to the storm, but it’s more than that. Much more. And why are abandoned business buildings still standing there (like Schweggeman’s)? Who’s driving the planning bus?
It’s one thing to try and rebuild from Katrina. It’s another altogether to try to restore vitality and economic stability that’s been bleeding out for two decades.
Oh… this was a very hard visit, Algiers. I’m so sad.