Times are tough since Hurricane Ida decimated New Orleans, and they don’t seem to be getting better quickly enough.
Blue tarps dot the horizon as homeowners wait for their insurance settlements. Storm debris is disappearing slowly, and trash pickup is down to one day a week. Entergy wants to take a hike rather than face the music. Whether the utility stays or goes, utility rates will probably rise. The cost of flood insurance is increasing along with the cost of gasoline, a hamburger at McDonald’s and grocery store staples, the latter blamed on international supply chain issues.
It’s hard to drive around New Orleans long without encountering a pothole or other obstruction. Neighborhood streets will probably flood during the next heavy rain.
Acclaimed Uptown restaurant Cavan announced its closure Thursday after five years on Magazine Street. The decision came after 18 months of struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic. Robert LeBlanc of local restaurant operator LeBlanc+Smith announced the closure on social media. “In the wake of Hurricane Ida and after a prolonged period of instability in our industry, we have made the decision to close Cavan Restaurant and Bar,” he said in a statement posted on Instagram. He noted the historic building at 3607 Magazine St.
The Big Easy ain’t so easy no more. Across the board, almost all of today’s citizens are paying for 150 years of benign neglect during which those who had money led a “laissez les bon temps rouler” lifestyle while many others struggled just to get by.
What’s gotten under my skin? Evacuating during Hurricane Ida to a town where potholes are at a minimum; no one is looting, panhandling or carjacking; and residents are not automatically carrying concealed weapons for personal protection. I stood in a long line at Walgreens on St. Charles Avenue yesterday to fill a prescription and listened to local residents complain about the piles of garbage and debris in front of their homes while also claiming much of the Garden District and St.
Audubon Park is reopening on Saturday (Sept. 18), although the jogging paths are open now for limited use. Bicycles will not be permitted until the entire park opens. The Audubon Nature Institute announced a two-phase plan for reopening its facilities following closures due to the impacts of Hurricane Ida. The Uptown park is in the second phase.
The Krewe of lris and Kern Studios announced last month the completion of the Krewe of lris dens at 3038 Earhart Blvd. and 1212 S. Roman St. To mark the grand opening, the Krewe of Iris and Kern Studios had planned to host a ribbon-cutting ceremony honoring the Krewe of Iris Dens on Monday (Sept. 13). Given the recent impact of Hurricane Ida on the krewe’s members and Louisiana home, the event has been postponed.
On Wednesday (Sept. 8), Mayor LaToya Cantrell lifted the curfew for New Orleans residents and the Army Corps of Engineers began installing its blue roofs, two signs that recovery from Hurricane Ida is progressing. Waste water treatment operations have returned to normal, the Sewerage & Water Board has announced, so residents can do their laundry, run their dishwashers and take long showers again. Trash continues to fester in front of homes, however. The city is issuing an emergency contract to bring more trucks and hoppers onto the streets, said Ramsey Green, the city’s infrastructure chief, at a press conference Wednesday.
City College of San Francisco biology professor Jonathan Siekmann was enjoying his visit to New Orleans when he spotted Meyer the Hatter, known to be the South’s largest hat store. Within minutes, Siekmann was sporting a new Panama-style straw to shield him from the Louisiana sun. “The pandemic has been a struggle. It was the worst business climate I’ve ever seen in my 46 years selling hats,” said Paul Meyer, a fourth generation hatter. “We depend on tourists and, until recently, there just weren’t any.”
Meyer’s great-great grandfather Samuel H. Meyer started the business in 1894 on St.
Like many New Orleanians, Tiffany Turner has been having a tough time during the pandemic. She was eager to train for a different career when she saw a Facebook post about Goodwill Technical College’s new Hospitality to Healthcare program for displaced tourism industry workers. “As a driver for Uber and Lyft, I am used to making a good living taking passengers to and from the airport, but it got much harder to make a profit,” she said. Armed with a love of accounting, Turner quickly realized that Goodwill could help her achieve her goal of transitioning to a well-paying job in medical billing without expensive college loans. “I am so thankful for this opportunity,” Turner said.
According to the Louisiana Workforce Commission, 56,000 individuals in the state have been displaced during the pandemic. More specifically, about 25,000 workers in New Orleans are faced with a difficult decision to pivot current skills into other sectors and career pathways, according to Goodwill.
As America come to grips with the inequities that have held back our country and many of its citizens, individuals, educational institutions and businesses large and small are beginning to envision what they can do to help right historic wrongs and build a more vibrant economy. Visionary leaders like Michael Fitts, president of Tulane University, have stepped up with promises of scholarships and meaningful programs. Late last week, Fitts and his wife agreed to donate $100,000, a little less than 10% of his annual salary, to fund scholarships for students who show leadership in racial equity and diversity activities. Fitts also pledged that Tulane would take transparent, measurable steps to further anti-racist goals including a race equity education initiative, develop a new hiring and management strategy aimed at the recruitment and retention of minority faculty members and establish a Health Equity Institute. On the national level, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife Patty Quillin recently unveiled a $120 million gift to two historically black universities and their parent organization, which is headed by former Dillard University President Dr. Michael Lomax. St.
There’s a new podcast in town, and service industry professionals are offering up their voices for it. The weekly podcast, titled We’ll Be Right Back: The Future of Hospitality, features interviews with professionals and organizations providing relief and resources as the industry manages amid COVID-19. As stated on its website, We’ll Be Right Back will “tell the stories of local business owners and employees in the service/hospitality sector and gig economy at-large in the Greater New Orleans Area impacted by the economic blowback of the coronavirus, as well as highlight the resources available to businesses and individuals alike.” Play the latest episode featuring Rachel Billow Angulo of La Cocinita.
“It’s important for New Orleans to have difficult, but hopeful and productive discussions as we chart a path forward in the wake of COVID-19,” said Greg Tilton, host and producer of We’ll Be Right Back.
Register here for a free webinar, beginning today at 11 a.m., on U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans in response to COVID-19. It is hosted by the Friends of Lafitte Greenway and the Greater Mid-City Business Association. Updates will also be shared on the congressional stimulus bill. https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_KrqZgV75Qmq5dzexvGB9rg