Sunday, August 30, 2009

Katrina: New Orleans Four Years Later

It's easy for many to simply forget that Katrina hurt much more than New Orleans. It devastated parts of lower Mississippi and damaged coastal Alabama as well.

I flew out of New Orleans the weekend before Katrina hit. I was there this weekend, on the 4th Anniversary of the storm's passing. In between, I have been back to New Orleans more than 25 times in the last four years. I was there for the first Mardi Gras post storm, and walked the fairgrounds for the 1st Jazz Fest after the storm.

I spent time reading about the city. Reading about its history, about the history of the French Quarter. I walked (and ran) its streets post storm. I went to St. Bernard Parish, saw the Lower 9th's destruction, as well as that of East New Orleans.

This is a city that deserves to be rebuilt just as much - more so - than the cities being rebuilt in Iraq by the US Military. Sure, the politics of the city are god awful. The spirit of the people though, is coming back. At least in areas away from where the flooding was at its worst.

In case you are wondering, the Central Business District is coming back. Surely the economy has hurt the rebuilding of the CBD. The Garden District is looking much better, where thankfully the damage was not as severe. The Quarter is seemingly back to its nearly normal tawdry self.

The area between the Port and the edges near Canal Street are hit and miss, but there is development.

I won't rant about what happened, didn't happen, or which politician was most incompetent (not on these pages, anyway). I will simply say this: Go. Visit the city. Eat at its 100+ year old restaurants. Take a walking tour of the Quarter, which while universally known as the French Quarter, has most of its standing buildings being of Spanish origin. Have a two hour plus dinner at Antoine's, or Bayona. Drive - like I just did - from the edge of the city out to the south and west, taking Highway 90 through cajun country.

I'll be back to my favorite city in America soon. Join me?

Jackson Square in New Orleans.Image via Wikipedia