six months after hurricane katrina, new orleans, 2006

Inside a Lower Ninth Ward house six months after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Louisiana, early 2006.

Scenes from a disaster. Homes and lives destroyed by manmade infrastructure failing to hold up post storm. I first visited NoLa in spring of 2005 around the French Quarter Festival. The next time was early 2006, shortly after the hurricane of August 2005. I’ve traveled to New Orleans 11 times in six years, attending the Jazz Fest and the Voodoo Music Experience, going off season and on, when it’s hot as hell and windy, cool and grey. I’ve eaten crawfish étouffée and shrimp creole, drank frozen cafe au laits and  French 75s and Pimm’s Cups and spooned strawberries arnaud and catfish topped with crab and crawfish. I’ve poured Louisiana hot sauce on red beans and rice and danced barefoot in fields. I’ve listened to a lot of people, seen a lot of New Orleanians, photographed them, talked with them. I’ve spent hours of near pure bliss wandering around historic, above ground cemeteries, snapping photographs and reading inscriptions. I’ve sat in countess voodoo temples, walked over many cobblestoned streets on slow, sleepy evenings, sat under magnolia trees and followed the scent of jasmine around the Garden District. I’ve listened to jazz, blues, ragtime, dixieland, circus acts, old timey, bounce, cajun and everything in between. I’ve tried to count all of the colors of the brightly painted creole cottages and the tropical flowers in lush gardens and curves and details in iron latticed balconies.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Natalie says:

    I was living in California when this happened, working as a vet tech at a small animal hospital. Growing up in Louisiana made me always have a soft spot for it, and I was horrified by what happened. I convinced the vet to shut down the clinic and five of us traveled to New Orleans. We spent most of our time in Algiers, working with the humane society to rescue pets that had been left behind, but found a few human remains in the process. Your photographs are very haunting and took me back there instantly. What made it worse then was how hot it gets after a hurricane, combined with all the flooding, and you get homes that are just festering with mold. I don’t know if it still smelled six months later but it was overpowering when I was there. Thank you for sharing these. I just wanted to share a little with you in return.

  2. champagne says:

    Natalie, I just want to tell you how moved I am by your story. You were one of the true heroes in New Orleans. I took photos of the houses and located some of the owners to let them know how the houses were (and also to document the damage to show outsiders who didn’t know just how bad it was). I also did some free photography and marketing for local NoLa boutiques like Laura’s Candies and others. BUT that is nothing, nothing compared to the REAL work… like you and your friends. Like Common Ground and others. All I could do was see some of the devastation and record some of it and give money where and when I could. I just admire your courage and compassion so much. I am so happy there are people like you who love and care for animals and people. You grew up in Louisiana … how great! And it is beautiful to read how you will always have a soft spot for it in your heart no matter where you are. I fell in love with NoLa and last time I was there in November 2011 and I miss it every day. It never leaves me.

    The picture in my head of your time in post-Katrina (sweltering heat, the stench of death, the horrifying and tragically sad discovery of human and animal remains) – the challenge of it all… is so powerful. I really truly appreciate you sharing your experience here. And if my little shots mean something to you, that’s beautiful to me too. Thank you!!

  3. champagne says:

    The mold was really bad and I’m lucky I didn’t get lung damage from it… so it was thick and the air was bad but it wasn’t hot and there wasn’t death in the air, just in the imprints. ;(

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