Thursday, August 30, 2012 | 9:31pm
For New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward, Hurricane Issac Wasn’t Its Biggest Threat Post-Katrina
The lack of any recognizable infrastructure still have the residents of N.O.’s forgotten ward living in a barren wastland.
One of the reasons I’ve been a little MIA is because I took a much needed break and went on a cruise. As my luck would have it apparently Tropical Storm Issac had the same itinerary I did. While we were chased around the Caribbean by the storm and were forced to stay out at sea a few extra days longer than expected, I was fortunate to enjoy calm seas, a beautiful cruise ship, sunny skies and plenty of food and drinks.
The same could not be said for everyone however. Seven years to the day that Hurrican Katrina and its storm serges breached the levyies of New Orleans, Isaac made landfall following the exact same footprint but far less powerful. While, fortunately, the storm was far different, a lot about New Orleans remains the same, specifically the famed Lower 9th Ward.
New Orleans has become my adopted city. Even before the storm I have always felt like it was home. I had and still have designs of retiring to the city one day. Despite its issues, New Orleans has a uniqueness, a cultural richness unlike anywhere I have visited. My last such visit last Fall was my first since the storm. While much of the debris and remnants of the storm have been removed, the Lower 9th Ward is like the urban version of an old western town minus the tumbleweeds.
There is no infastructure, no parks, no restaurants, not even a police station and no grocery stores. In fact, the closest grocery store is a ONE HOUR BUS RIDE away. That’s unacceptable. For most residents, they get their food from the liquor store or scarce Chinese food restaurants. There’s no wonder why health conditions like hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and alcoholism plague the residents of the Lower 9th.
Some old online friends of mine, Hunter & Andrea Herz Payne and their organization AID STILL REQUIRED are teaming up with The Dr. King Charter School and Common Ground Relief on a program they’re calling The Garden of Eatin’ to provide healthy alternatives for residents of the storm stricken region. The program educates folks on organic gardening, nutritional science and culinary skills.
Strong shout to Hunter and Andrea for making a difference. I hope that some day the Lower 9th will not only rebound but elevate a community of people to not only to be economically healthy but nutritionally healthy as well. While I know the Lower 9th will one day be redeveloped once its levee and elevation problem is fixed, I just pray that its not at the expense of its current residents and those that perished post-Katrina because of its lack of infrastructure.
FILED IN News