As I was leaving the Mid-City Arts Market on Sunday afternoon and heading out of town, I realized there was nowhere to stop and get a coke and a tank of gas between Mid-City and Slidell, on the entire Eastern side of Orleans Parish. I used to live near Morrison and Downman in the East, in Pines Village, which is a working-class, mostly African American community. I felt like I should get off at Downman and see my old house, which my ex was still living in at the time of Katrina. I'd seen it once, at Thanksgiving, before I had a digital camera. I thought: no. I can't go back. I don't want to invade his space. But then I got to the Morrison Road exit and I was too compelled not to turn off. I rode through the neighborhood and there were maybe half a dozen trailers in the whole subdivision. A few houses had been gutted, but most were moldering. So I stopped at my old house. I painted every wall in that house. I hand-dug and planted beds all along the fence and out front. I'm thinking of going back and digging up the day lilies I planted, as they are just now coming up.
What needs to be said, over and over, is for every victory (NOMA reopening, etc.) there are battles yet to be won. I haven't asked the ex what he will do, because I don't think he knows. No flood insurance, you see. The house hadn't flooded since Betsy.
The pics are of the back yard, the kitchen, the garage, and the front of the house. In the garage picture, you can see a chest freezer: only it's upside down. The flood waters picked it up and turned it over. It was full of fish and meat, and the smell still lingers. The back yard was a lovely little lawn with a pecan tree, gardens, a grill, a smoker, and a picnic bench. All weeds and shingles now. The flood waters shoved the window a/c into the kitchen and overturned everything. The front of the house: you can see the water line, the ruined plants, but one little pink flamingo whose wing was spinning valiantly while I was there.
I hope he doesn't mind me putting these pictures up. I think it's important for everyone to know that there are houses in this condition for miles and miles and miles of streets in Orleans Parish, six months later.