The Lower Ninth Ward

In New Orleans, billboards advertising demolition companies pop up along the roadways and capture my attention. I’ve never seen these signs deep in the heartland of the Midwest where I’m from, far from the hurricane shores.

Just a short drive from the lure of the French Quarter and the glamour of the Garden District, New Orlean’s ninth ward huddles beside the levee, a living and dying reminder of Katrina.

New construction rises up beside homes left to decay.

Katrina “x’s” are still visible graffiti on doors and walls, evidence of a search for survivors, victims, for the dead.


The rescuers and home search teams marked the top of the x with the date. Then traveling clockwise around the x, they marked the current hazzards they found within, the number of victims or dead bodies they recovered, and the identification of the search team.


Some home owners have preserved these records, according to one survivor, as a “reminder to all, that man and all his things are fragile in the face of raw nature, and that our lives are fragile and can be changed or taken from us in an instant.” (Understanding the Katrina X)

For the tourist from the midwest, the x’s are grim reminders of the death and devastation viewed over 24-hour news channels when New Orleans’ lower ninth ward, previously little-known, gained world-wide recognition. And sadly so.


Nearly eight years ago the flood waters roared over the levees, turning family yards into empty lots.


Concrete slabs are evidence of a house that was or a new one that will be.


Dark doorframes sans doors, and windows bereft of glass, identify a home as a lost cause, abandoned.


Doors and windows are boarded up. Closed. No entrance here. No sign as to whether an owner will someday return and reclaim.


Decorative wrought iron railings guard a disintegrating home that no longer contains a family or possessions that need to be protected.

New homes are being built. The hardy and the strong, those who will not be defeated return and demolish, reclaim, rebuild, and start again.


Various organizations like Brad Pitt’s Make it Right have stepped in to help make it right. And new homes in the devastated area rise like a breath of fresh air.


But the evidence of Katrina remains in the lower ninth ward. The decay is wide-spread and within site wherever you look.

How will this area ever recover? So much destruction in an area with little evidence of the money required to rebuild.

Who are the owners of the homes left to rot? Where are they now?

And why would someone who could afford to buy property choose to buy here, one wonders, with so many reminders of the devastation, destruction, and death, that remain?

I hope for the sake of the courageous residents who would not be defeated that with time the lower ninth ward will reemerge as a solid neighborhood.

There is a lot of work still to be done.

If you would like to read more about the New Orleans 9th Ward, I found this  book as I was searching for information. I thought it looked good. Let me know what you think if you read it.  Untold – The New Orleans 9th Ward You Never Knew by Lynette Norris Wilkinson.

11 thoughts on “The Lower Ninth Ward”

  1. It’s profoundly sad, seeing the aftermath of that storm, all those years on.

    Given the profound vulnerabilities of the city, it shouldn’t have been built there in the first place.

    1. I often think about that, why people build homes and cities places that are so vulnerable. Society has done it throughout time. I guess the allure of a beautiful place is irresistible for some.

  2. Wow, it’s sad to see how slow that part of town has been to recover–tragic, actually. I’ve been so out of the loop recently, I didn’t even know you’d been to New Orleans.

    Sara and I have arrived safely in Ecuador with our two white dogs, and I’m trying to return to a more regular blogging schedule. The move has shot my writing life to hell, but, hopefully, not for long! Hope you’re doing okay, Christine! Miss you. Sorry to have been so absent.


    1. It’s a real eye-opener. Having been there and seen the area, I wonder how it will ever fully recover.

      I’m glad you all made it to Ecuador. Give yourself time on the blogging. My writing life has suffered a tremendous blow this year too. I’m trying to be patient with myself. A month or two, a year here or there, in the whole scheme of things will make little to no difference.

      (I’m become somewhat defeated and jaded in my thinking. I hope I snap out of it.)

      Looking forward to reading about your adventures in your new home.

  3. Sad to see so much devastation and destruction. When we live near the coast, hurricanes are a fact of life–one we hope to never endure.

    1. You’re right, Patti. They are a fact of life. I think people who live there comfort themselves with the idea that “It won’t happen to me.” Maybe living along the coast is worth the uncertainty.

  4. Hi Christine .. so sad to see such reminders – the power of nature …

    Thanks for sharing such wonderfully evocative photos for us – and making us remember that we are so lucky in so many ways …

    With thoughts – Hilary

  5. We here over the Pond, are not shown these pictures, of how still after all this time things are still in the state they are… My heart goes out to all of those who suffered, lost loved ones, animals, homes etc… Your post is a stark reminder how in a blink of an eye all can change!

    Wishing you a wonderful Weekend Christine……. Love Sue xx

    1. Every now and then a news reporter like Anderson Cooper on CNN or someone else will do a story about what has not gotten done in New Orleans. But mostly we all have moved on. We have short attention spans.

      1. Yes it appears that way Christine… much like Japan and the Nuclear disaster, so much suffering still happening out there too and yet no one wants to report that, because many are still pushing Nuclear Energy as the way forward and yet we pollute are very existence with its waste products.. I totally agree…
        ” We have short attention spans” xxxxx


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