As recently as this past Monday evening as I walked home from work, I saw an older black couple gutting a house in my neighborhood, some seven-plus years after the events of 2005. No volunteers, no fancy apparatus, no wrecking ball. Just two people, a truck and flatbed, and work gloves, overalls and dust masks, the pungent mold wafting from across the street. Where this house is, it’s unclear if the water came up or the water fell in, as the raised-pier home may or may not have taken flood water, and the roof while appearing to be halfway past its useful 30 year life did not appear to be damaged or compromised. The how is almost moot. Water up, water down, it doesn’t matter (unless you’re dealing with some damned adjuster). Water damaged the home. Whereas the why is more than evident. So many years later some may ask Why now? Why not choose to sell or abandon it all together? This home means something to them, and now in 2013 they’re here, they’re able-bodied, and they’re doing it, seemingly unassisted.
One takeaway should be this: our journey in recovery is far from complete.
The Lyons Center recreational complex at Louisiana and Tchoupitoulas — where ground was broken on extensive renovations in September after years of neglect after Hurricane Katrina — is expected to open in May, city officials told Tania Dall of our partners at WWL-TV.
We will never get out of our minds the picture of then-U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert in the wake of Hurricane Katrina asking of New Orleans, “Why would anyone want to rebuild there?” He later apologized but we thought the question marked Hastert as forever an idiot.
When the Master Plan for distributing a $2 billion FEMA payment for school rebuilding was approved last year, officials hailed it as a panacea of sorts that would ensure every Orleans Parish student is at least in a building that is “warm, safe and dry.”
Now, school leaders are unsure the money will even go that far.
“Unless construction is under way, every project might see some cuts,” said Orleans Parish School Board member Lourdes Moran. “The Master Plan has to be reopened.”
The word of the day is “Schadenfreude,” a loanword of Germanic origin that refers to satisfaction received from the misfortunes of others.
Oh, I should use it in a sentence? OK. “I felt a warm feeling of Schadenfreude when the man who stole my bicycle was struck by lightning, died in intense pain, and then a swarm of rats appeared and urinated on his remains.” (Note to readers: I really hate bike thieves).
Following Hurricane Sandy, regrettably if understandably, many New Orleanians felt a whiff of Schadenfreude. We had been told so many times by so many people after Hurricane Katrina that we were poor, stupid, and our city had been built in the wrong place. People asked if we should bother rebuilding New Orleans, as if we were all just going to pack up our bags and move.
Students’ work still hangs on the walls three years after it was turned in, and their art lays strewn about the floor of the old Free School. A few children’s books sit in crates, toys lay abandoned on the dirty floor, and pigeons flutter in and out of the dark fourth-floor attic. To the trained eye, however, the most insidious problem is the sudden dips in the hardwood floor.
The century-old Free School on Camp Street looks as though it was abandoned overnight, as it almost literally was in December of 2009 when critical structural problems were discovered there. Next month, the building is one of seven former school sites around the city scheduled to be auctioned off by the Orleans Parish School Board, raising the possibility that it might finally be redeveloped into something new, or even one day hold students once again.
A former cotton press on Tchoupitoulas dating back more than 100 years is slated to become a kitchen cooking fresh, healthy meals for local schools next year, with office space in front and 52 apartments next door as part of a riverfront development just blocks away from the former Entergy power plant.
What was initially billed as political “speed dating” — a chance to meet with individual candidates for the District B race one-on-one — grew into a full-blown debate at a Freret community meeting Thursday night, with three City Council hopefuls trading their ideas on blight, crime, education and other issues in the first such event of the race.
While most New Orleans schools had planned to reopen Tuesday after Hurricane Isaac, Audubon Charter School received such extensive damage to both of its campuses that it will remain closed for another week; the International School of Louisiana has postponed reopening until Thursday while it finishes cleaning its campuses; and ENCORE Academy students will return Tuesday to their temporary home at Touro, as the storm delayed completion of their Crocker campus yet again, school officials said.
Poydras Home on Jefferson and Magazine lost its back-up electricity early Thursday morning, so state Rep. Neil Abramson helped coordinate a move to Lambeth House on Broadway, according to a report by Brendan McCarthy of our partners at WWL-TV.
The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will discuss the process for transferring RSD schools back to the control of the Orleans Parish School Board in a meeting at Walter L. Cohen High School, 3520 Dryades Street, at 6 p.m. tonight (Wednesday, Aug. 1).
Frank Lloyd Wright, the legendary architect, was blunt in his hatred of cities. Wright described city-dwellers as “human beings, all crawling on hard pavements like ants to hole somewhere or find their way to this or that cubicle.” They were, he believed, “herd-struck morons our present sky-scraperism has cultivated.”
The Carrollton Hollygrove Senior Center, built in 1949 as a hospital but converted to a senior in 1980, was demolished early Monday morning to make way for a new facility that will open in two years, reports Bill Capo of our partners at WWL-TV.
Reflecting its evolution into a “one of the leading developers of high-quality affordable homes in Central City,” the New Orleans Neighborhood Development Collaborative will be changing its name to Harmony Neighborhood Development beginning in June, officials announced Tuesday night.
For decades, Freret Street was a thriving commercial corridor in the heart of Uptown New Orleans, but the murder of Bill Long in 1984 in front of his bakery was a “death knell” that sent the street into a spiral of decay and neglect, said Andy Brott and Lauren Anderson, two guides for about a dozen people Saturday morning on a “Jane Jacobs Walk” to discuss the history and evolution of the street.
After years of work by community leaders, the destructive flooding after Hurricane Katrina and a permissive rezoning, the corridor suddenly sprang back to life with a flurry of new restaurant openings over the last two years, and Saturday’s walk served to explore some of the factors that led to the renaissance.
Starting with the historic Bohn Ford building, the four buildings at the intersection of Washington and Broad will see a major transformation over the coming year, including space for a community clinic, a entrepreneurship incubator, a new location for Laurel Street bakery and other retail and office space, reports Scott Satchfield of our partners at WWL-TV: