Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture

Blog Editors

Recent Posts

HALO Trip - Arizona in Images

20 March 2012 – Saint George Day 2: On Medicaid and Zion National Park

19 March 2012 – Saint George Day 1: Utah Legal Services at the Southern Utah Community Legal Center

18 March 2012 – To Saint George, Seven of Us Go!

17 March 2012 – HALO Departs for Spring Break 2012!


Taking It In

Posted By Deborah Gettleman, Mar 22, 2007

It looked like a war zone. Houses crumbled to the ground in a pile of boards, empty lots with the vestiges of what was once the foundation for a house, signs telling tourists that they should be ashamed of taking pictures of other's pain was what greeted us in the lower ninth ward, the hardest hit by Katrina. I have seen pictures of this city hours after the levees broke, and though they were horrific, brought me to tears in fact, it was the very clear waterline 8 feet above the ground, the smells, and the stagnancy that made it all so real. The homes are empty, filled with only moldy furniture and the hopelessness that emanates from the crushed houses throughout the neighborhood.

The lower ninth ward has more African American homeowners than any other neighborhood in American, some estimate 85%. Yet we saw only one in 15 houses being rebuilt, the rest sit waiting. We, as a group, grappled with the spray painted "DO NOT BULLDOZE" on many of the houses, some nothing more than a wall leaning against a pile of rubble. As we spoke to more and more residents who lived through the storm, were evacuated after three days on top of their house to the superdome where they endured the most horrific conditions, wrapping up dead bodies to prevent the stench from getting worse, looting to feed the crying children that kept them up at night, sleeping on the highway overpass watching police cars drive by without picking them up, it became crystal clear. The government wasn't there when the levees broke, and rumors and conspiracy theories abound that the lower 9th ward will be seized through eminent domain to make way for golf courses and WalMarts.

Grassroots organizations have popped up in every corner of this city, from the residents in poor areas who go face to face with gov't contracted bulldozers to keep the only school in their neighborhood from being plowed over, to the parents who, sick with the new orleans school system, have taken it upon themselves to create a charter. New Orleans is now home to more charter schools than any other city in the country.

The devastation was enormous, so much so that i feel like in the past three paragraphs i have gotten nothing across. There is so much heartache wrapped up in the events post Katrina, but more importantly, there is so much hope that this magical city will not let its most loyal residents down.