Where New Orleans Is Today
"Two years after the flood, not knowing the specific terrain before, I found it hard to tell that New Orleans's Lower Ninth Ward has not suffered from some slow-burning economic calamity or midnight social convulsion. Looking down Deslonde or Tennessee Streets, where they run parallel to the burst levee, you see only continuous green scrub, a few trees, one very stubborn house battered but still on its foundation, and another askew, awaiting demolition. There is a single white trailer nearby, its door swinging. In the clearings where the brush and vines have not yet converged, you can find pieces of driveway blacktop and tiled kitchen floors."
"A satellite view on Google Maps taken last year still shows the fields of splintered and piled houses as they were before most of the wreckage was removed from the Lower Ninth and nature began to move back in to a place from which it probably never should have been evicted. Now it looks like a park. And since the city currently has no plans to redevelop the area, since commerce is either distant or nonexistent, since title to the land (often the only asset of the displaced) is in many cases documented more by custom than paperwork, it is likely to stay that way for some time. What I didn't understand, what one of my New Orleans cousins explained to me as he took me around, were the differing effects of the flood between neighborhoods that were washed away adjacent to the levee breaches (there were more than a dozen) and those that were more gently overtaken by rising water as lower levees were overtopped and the sunken "bowl" filled up. In the first instance the streets are still barren; there are no houses to fix. But in the other areas blue tarps are slowly giving way to new shingles."