Monday, May 5, 2008

NOLA: There is Always Hope

This broke my heart and gave me a thrill at the same time. From Ray In NOLA:

The weekend after Ashley died, one of my oldest friends Dr. Sarah came in town for a visit, and I took her down to see the Lower Ninth Ward since she hadn't been here since the storm. We drove past a few houses I'd gutted before, and saw the usual lack of progress. We drove by Robert Green's trailer on Tennessee Street and I told her the story of how he lost a young granddaughter off his roof during the flood and found his dead mother months after the storm.

And then we drove by the house on Gordon Street.

I blogged about gutting this house with the Mardi Gras Service Corps back in November '06. It was a lonely block. One house had some renovations going on that seemed to be going slowly, and a few houses were gutted and the lawns were being kept up, but the block didn't seem to have a lot of hope, and the house itself was a mess. Lots of termite damage, some tree damage to the roof joists and the back frame of the house. A sign on the front said "For Sale By Owner: Mr. Henry" with a phone number.

There was also a light switch in the back bedroom that had a Disney character floating under some balloons which got me all choked up when I ripped the moldy sheetrock down around it.

But down the street was an uninhabitable Baptist church with a FEMA trailer outside it, and that Sunday while we were gutting, three carloads of older black folks in their Sunday best, the women all wearing their crowns, all showed up, went into the trailer, worshipped, then came out and hugged each other and shook hands and drove off. So I always had kind of a fondness for this block. It seemed hopeless on the face of it, but maybe not so hopeless if you squinted just right and held your head at the right angle while you looked at it.

In November of '07 I blogged about my tour of despair, of all the houses I had gutted which hadn't been touched since I left them, and I took pictures of this house on Gordon Street, the last one in that post, and wondered if there wasn't some sign of progress.
Go over to Ray's Place to see the pictures and read the rest of his post.

And so it goes.

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