New Orleans: Two Years Post-Katrina

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I've been making it a regular job to go around the city every now and then and take pictures of the "Rebuilding Effort" that has been going on since the Army Corps of Engineers destroyed the city of New Orleans in the wake of hurricane Katrina. Come take a look at the latest installment...

After more than two years since the city of New Orleans was flooded by faulty levees that failed after
the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina, we take a trip around town to take some photographs of the "progress."

Here is the original flood protection, un-improved, that was designed by the Army Corps of Engineers, to withstand a Cat 4 hurricane, but failed under a Cat 2 condition.


Here is the site of the breach in the 17th street canal. As you can see, they are STILL working on the flood protection wall, two years later.


As you can see, even two years later, they are still working on the pumping system, and even then, it's a "temporary" solution. TWO YEARS LATER WE STILL HAVE "TEMPORARY PUMPS!" This is America!



Very expensive condos or apartments near the lake. Still shut down. Are these condos appropriated by the Army Corps of Engineers? They took a bunch of land from other residents at the other side of the Lakefront. The owners of the restaurant Brunings who had been a staple of New Orleans cuisine since the 19th century lost their land when the Government took it over.


Earlier the Corps test ran these "temporary pumps", then there was a huge fish kill in Lake Pontchartrain. Some local fishermen are convinced that running of the pumps contributed to the die-off of tens of thousands of fish.



This is a house on Robert E. Lee Blvd. A major thorofare in New Orleans in the very affluent Lakeview subdivision. This house seems to have floated about 6-8 feet off its foundation and was in 6+ feet of water. Two years later, there are still plenty of homes like this strewn all through New Orleans.


This house has not been gutted so we can take a peek inside of what the flood did... we have at least the advantage of it being two years old, that the smell is tolerable.


Still food on the shelves in the kitchen, rusted. You have to wonder what happened to the owner? Did the owner die? Why haven't they come back?




When your house sits in 5-10 feet of water, for several weeks, everything in it is pretty much gone.















Posted by anon. on 2007-10-02 14:53:27
settle down. work takes time.
Theyre not dead.
Posted by Brandon Hyman on 2007-10-02 16:09:41
This burgundy colored house belongs to my parents. They are not dead.
More info
Posted by Brandon Hyman on 2007-10-02 16:21:43
The house was in over eight feet of water, closer to ten, and didnt float off the concrete 'stilts' as much as it was pushed off by the incoming surge when the levee ruptured. I wish you had taken pics of the bedrooms. With all the damage done, the beds remained made and the towels on the foot of the bed waiting to be put away were still waiting.

As far as what happened to the owner(s) they eveacuated, and had literally nothing to come back to except what you see in the pics. They have since bought a house in Old Metairie.

The house hasnt been gutted or demolished because they own the house and the land outright so there was no need to sell it for the equity. My mother could explain it better. I will fwd this to her and ask her to leave a comment regarding this.
Posted by wizeGurl on 2007-10-02 16:49:34
...For posting, Brandon. It's very interesting to get the details. Every house has a story, and it's good to know that this one doesn't involve any loss of life, though I'm guessing it was still pretty hard on all involved.
Posted by Eva on 2007-10-03 02:55:01
The Dutch, who are the worldwide MASTERS of managing water offered to help the United States with their New Orleans problem. The Dutch have tried and true methods of keeping water out and are known the world over for their thriftiness. We were turned down. It could have been fixed. The United States would rather "study" the problem, at a cost of 5 billion Dollars over 5 years. We could fix it for close to that, as long as the US Dollar doesn't dive too much further.
Posted by ueberbill on 2007-10-03 10:29:34
You weren't all turned down, the city is working with Dutch consultants. How much of their good advice we take, now that's an open question.
God...... bless America
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-10-03 14:28:56
Somebody is doing well off this catastrophe.
And it isn't the citizens of New Orleans.

Simply stunning.
The jew above me is...
Posted by xyz on 2007-10-03 18:31:42
using the "racist" canard.
Posted by Pile on 2007-10-03 22:54:57
Hey Brandon,
I'm glad you saw this - I hope it was cool to take a few pictures. You'll notice the house is scheduled for demolition within 30 days. Your parents need to take some action or else they may find it demolished. I noticed the sign saying don't demolish the house, but I don't think the city cares.
Only a fool would build, buy or rent below sea level.
Posted by Ugly American on 2007-10-04 05:06:49
And only a retard would rebuild below sea level.

I'm not saying they shouldn't be helped, but I am saying we should not repeat the same mistakes all over again.

There are empty houses all over the US. In every state, in every major city. People could be moved in now. People could have been moved in then.

People obsessed with staying in NO should have moved to higher ground for rebuilding.

But with Government 'help' they got tents, then trailers, and finally houses with rotten foundations and moldly frames covered with brand new siding and carpet.

They will get sick from living there.

They will get flooded again.

But you see it's not for them, it's for the government contractors who make the bribes, I mean political contributions.
Posted by Webmaster on 2007-10-04 06:09:22
These are the before pictures people, the after shots come in tomorrow.
Posted by ueberbill on 2007-10-04 09:26:59
Hey Ugly American,

There are 16 million Dutch people who would, if they weren't so polite, tell you to shut the hell up. They reclaimed hundreds of square miles of land from the ocean, some of that using windmill-powered pumps in the 14th century. It's more than possible to live and rebuild down here in New Orleans, a much more interesting place to live than in a cast-off house in some square state. And if the water keeps rising as it is (and it will), then you'll have millions of "fools" in places like Manhatten and Seattle who are trying to do what we're doing now. This is a test-run for what we'll be seeing in 50-100 years, and if I lived in one of those places I'd be terrified at how badly our government is f*cking it up.
Posted by cap'n inertia on 2007-10-09 16:18:55
I live, work, and was born in New Orleans. Just last Sunday, I visited the Lakeview area and saw the purple house that you photographed. Friends from Ashville, NC, were in town and wanted to take the "Disaster Tour," as my husband and I have come to call it, and portions of Lakeview, Gentilly, and the 9th Ward are all part of our tour.

It had been a few months since I had taken the tour and I continue to be amazed by many things: the number of structure demolitions that had taken place in Lakeview and the 9th Ward, the number of people rebuilding raised homes and the number of people rebuilding on a slab (about a 50-50 split), the lack of rebuilding taking place in Gentilly, the silence in many of the neighborhoods, the massive public works projects the Corps of Engineers are erecting (guess they're trying to get it right this time!), and just street after street, block after block, and neighborhood after neighborhood of abandonded buildings, most of which were residential neighborhoods pre-K. Where are all of the people that used to live here? How many tried to navigate the bureaucratic maze of local, state and federal regulations, only to have the rules changed on them, been forced to wait months, even years for answers, and finally, just gave up? It is just too depressing for words.

Thanks for the photos and for your recognition of what a totally f@*ked-up situation we are living in daily in New Orleans. That said, I find the spirit of the people who are here magical and I wouldn't, couldn't live anywhere else.
Posted by embarrassed2Bamerican on 2007-10-09 17:01:56
some super power that can't look after its own peoples interests--shame shame shame
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-10-13 14:55:14
Cap'n Inertia
I was one of the few who moved here post-K and I couldn't agree more with your statements regarding the spirit of the folks who live here. New Orleans is one of the most interesting places left in America, hands down. It's got a history and character that no other place I've been to could hope to match-- the rest of the country is too busy selling out its history but this place is the real deal. It definitely has its problems, no doubt, but it is an important part of the history of this country and has some of the coolest people around.
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-10-14 20:52:05
Last I new the Dutch weren't in a highly prone hurricane area such as new orleans. And don't experience as big of storm surges. There never should have been a city built on swamp land in the first place. Any thing that will be done, will always be temporary man will never be able to control mother nature, in an area with that much f*cking water. Honestly how can you even begin to compare it to a city like Seattle.
My visit to New Orleans
Posted by fredimerc on 2007-11-12 15:10:04
Being from Boston I always wanted to see the Mardi Gras and its history.I planned on taking a year to get to Know her and to see If this would be My retirment heaven.After three months of the goodole boy hospatality, gov regulations and prohibitions of this and that I couldnt even get a Job in my feild as a renovation contractor try as I might the cards were stacked against me.I began to understand the word surfdom and every time I drove around the outskirts of town the results of a two class system were all too evident.I never made the one year mark and now I sing ther s no place like home.I feel like the luckiest person alive. greatful that I didnt have to live like a second class citizen of La. Where did all the people Go? They were happy to have a reason to escape to a better life.I feel sad for those who are still trapped there.
Posted by Pile on 2007-11-13 15:14:35
New Orleans does bring out a wide variety of passionate responses.

I'd take it over soulless cities like Houston and Atlanta any day of the week.
Posted by An on 2008-01-17 17:55:59
I completely disagree. I have been to New Orleans recently and there is something magical about that city. I never got to visit before Katrina so I dont know how it used to be, But I know that it is still a great place to experience alot of history and a truly unique culture. I love New Orleans and hope it stays around for a long time. I do agree that the government truly screwed it up from the start. Awww Bush....
recent visitor
Posted by Polly on 2008-04-02 00:51:36
I just returned from New Orleans, my husband and I may homage each year as my daughter was a college student there before, during and after Katrina.
I took the bus tour led by John Hall as resident who stayed and worked during the evacuation and remains actively involved in repairing and restoring his home which was in 6 ft of h20. I also took pictures of these very same homes, and my impression from our tour guide is that the rebuilding is still only able to sustain level 3 hurricane, and storm surge and the levees are patched where the breech was with much the same design, and where the patching was not done you must realize that the structure itself is not designed to handle the amount of water that comes with level 3 hurricanes.
The fact remains that the people who knowingly mishandled and maintained the levees that failed are right back where they were.
I am no expert but my feeling is that the next level 3 hurricane could be disastrous again.
In these areas shown above are new homes, rebuilt homes back in line with the same possible scenario.
This city is worth saving and the culture should be protected and nourished. Rebuilding smarter and better is the answer.
God Bless New Orleans!
It's a Shame
Posted by NOLA Lover on 2008-07-31 00:02:34
I just got back from NOLA, on a 4 day trip, my 1st since Katrina and I, as I told the people who we were with, were I Nagin or Blanco, I couldn't live with myself. That's the 1st thing. Item 2 is the # of stays put into place by people who won't come back to 'deal' with their property but don't want it touched either. No one will ever forget Katrina. Part of rebuilding is going to mean tearing down what is uninhabitable & rebuilding or whatever.
3rdly, to the bright person talking about people having to be morons to live or build or re-build in NOLA, under sea level, curiousity has me....are all the hundreds of thousands of people in WI, IA, IL, MO and so forth who got flooded earlier in the summer morons too? Because they farm and they're in a 100 year flood plain? What about all the people who live in FL or anywhere on the east coast for that matter? Reality is, we are all, no matter where we live in this great country, in some sort of danger from weather. Deal with it and quit name-calling! It only makes you ignorant!
Next point, I find NOLA to be a unique city in so many ways...I also find the sense of victimization I found this visit to be amazing. I'm not blaming I am simply saying that AL, MS and the people in FL who lost everything in the various hurricanes that ravaged the gulf in 05 have rebuilt and are moving forward. I get that there's red tape everywhere but I also know that many people ripped off they system. I also get that our response to Katrina was flawed...but people, we've never had something this huge and wide-spread to deal with in US history so yeah...and that goes back to the Governor and Mayor royally screwing their citizens. We had refugees from Katrina in Raleigh, NC where I lived at the time and the stories they told...yeah, they'd make me terrified to come back too!

Finally, reality is NOLA and the gulf for that matter, will get hit with major storm again in our lifetime. In all likelihood said storm will be stronger and come in west of or dead on into NOLA thusly the same flooding/levee issues again and after a certain point, there is no amount of protection, no levee that will protect you, no matter who builds it.

Maybe next time when the government sees a Cat 5 storm coming right at them, they'll do like FL does and declare a SOE early then get's only silly to be prepared until it's too late but then nobody's laughing.

What I saw in NOLA, nearly 3 years later, made me sad. It made me wonder where the funds appropriated have gone? Great pictures by the way.
Posted by Creole Man on 2009-02-21 07:40:43
The city of New Orleans can and did withstand a catagory 5 rather 4 hurricane. There was nothing wrong with those levees, they were hydro-flushed and bombed, I know for a fact and so have several close eye-whitnesses who saw and heard it happen. My good friend who worked on those levees after leaving the marines was told in no uncertian terms while they were hydro flushing the levees that you be a good marine and say nothing. The engineers who built the levees were not stupid, having a city below sea level with the proper engineering and pumping in place is not stupid. Folks we live in a self sabotaging country, they used the hurricane situation to do exactly what they wanted and that was to flush out a large portion of the cities undesireable residents, plain and simple. So forget about placing all the wrong blame on what you heard on the news, and from people who dont know. You dont have to believe me but use your heads and common sense people. There was nothing wrong with those damn levees, the flood didn't happen until after the hurricane had passed. Now I know about direct hits straight up the river and if its a slow moving 5 or 4. Anyway long live NEw Orleans and I cant wait to move back home from this dull, dead, soulless northern culture.
Bush caused the flooding of New Orleans
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-04-07 08:39:24
Katrina actually missed the city, and was about a Cat3 when it hit, but the aged levees could not stand the surge, and gave way. Bush caused the flooding of New Orleans by de-funding a levee repair /rebuild program (SELA) that was in progress when he took office. Bush did this so he could give tax breaks to his rich friends.

February 2001
Posted by neianna on 2010-06-26 07:04:03
To all those who are living there now, I as a dutch person wish you well...Ask your state officials to listen to us, we have a lot of experience considering stormsurges. And get a mandate, a law that forces your gov. to keep protecting those levees no matter who's in charge...
Anonymous perhaps not hurricanes but did you know that our city Rotterdam looks a lot like NO and look up the 'Maeslant Barrier' if you will or the Oosterscheld barrier...
At the moment we're widening the rivers as a continuing project called 'room for the rivers'after all if you spread the same amount of water in a wider area the waterlevel drops...
Also I heard that we had offered three plans in total, but all of them got turned down, because of either the long time it would take or because of the sheer amount of money that would have to be brought in.
We hope that the barriers which are being build will hold, though I wouldn't trust on levees alone...


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