Saturday, January 14, 2006

Lower Ninth Ward
We took a ride to the lower ninth ward today. First we rode across the Claiborne Avenue bridge and headed towards the river.
We walked around the Holy Cross neighborhood. They still haven't got any electricity, water or gas. Forget about mail. We met a woman from Mississippi and her friend James and son Buddy. She owns about an acre just at the foot of the levee where the Mississippi meets up with the Industrial Canal. She kept horses there. She has a gorgeous view of the whole city just a short walk up the levee. Her house is over 100 years old, made of barge board, it was only minimally damaged. According to her, adn I heard it repeated later, the Army Corps of Engineers has been fighting with the neighborhood for 30 years trying to expropriate more of the land near the Industrial Canal (which is little used) so they can widen the lock. (The lock is extremely narrow and a bottleneck for barge traffic.) She believes the plan is to use this disaster to expropriate the Holy Cross neighborhood adn build industiral sites alongside the widened canal.
(For more info and history of the neighborhood go here.

What's clear is that with a few bobcats, some trash pickup, some electric power and gas, you know normal decent services, the people here could begin to rebuild their homes and reclaim their lives. Only that isn't happening and doesn't seem like it's going to happen.
The Holy Cross neighborhood is historic, and the housing similar to what you might find in parts of Bywater. Built on the natural levee near the river, there is no reason why it shouldn't be a safe area. But only if the Corps properly maintained the canal. You really have to wonder how a barge was allowed to be in the canal during a hurricane.
I went over to that part of the lower ninth ward, which is between Claiborne and Florida avenue. This is the absolutely most devastated, horrifying sight. This makes you angry. This should never have happened in the United States of America. Whole blocks are completely smashed up, you see where houses have moved across the street. I was photographing a clock which was stopped at 5 pm. A woman stopped and told me that was her clock. She pointed across teh street, she said I love my enighbor, but I guess too much, because now her house was on top of her neighbors. She said when she went inside she had a piece of crystal which was amazingly untouched. She was afraid to touch it. She said what the lady from Holy Cross said, that the Corps has wanted this land for years and years.
I didn't know what to say except, I wish you the best. Which was hardly adequate.
We went to see the barge. ING 4247 is written on the side. This huge rusty barge came sideways over the levee wall, completely smashed two homes and a school bus. AS we walked around, Moira said, there are ghosts here. I expect people died in this area. It is grotesque and horrifying, and to this day, we don't know who owns this barge. A whole huge section of the canal wall was taken out and you have to imagine that this played a large role in the devastation.

1 comment:

AD said...

This is about as eloquent a statement about New Orleans as I have encountered

Thanks Roger

Norm Zamcheck

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Rodger Kamenetz is an award-winning poet and author. He wrote the landmark international bestseller The Jew in the Lotus and the National Jewish Book Award-winning Stalking Elijah. His five books of poetry include The Lowercase Jew --he has been called “the most formidable of the Jewish-American poets”. His memoir, Terra Infirma, has been described as “the most beautiful book ever written about a mother and son.”

            His 2007 book, The History of Last Night's Dream, was featured on Oprah Winfrey's Soul Series. Kamenetz takes us on an historical tour of dreaming from Genesis to now, and shows how dreams have been misinterpreted. He then shows how dreams can be used today to reveal the truth of the soul.

In 2010 came Burnt Books: Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav and Franz Kafka, a dual biography published by Schocken and Nextbook Press.

  Rodger lives in New Orleans where he divides his time between working with dream clients and writing poetry. He is married to fiction writer Moira Crone  and is the father of Anya Kamenetz (author of Generation Debt) and Kezia Kamenetz.


Rodger Kamenetz is Professor Emeritus at Louisiana State  University where he was the Sternberg Honors Professor and LSU Distinguished Professor. He held a dual appointment as a Professor in the Department of English and in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. He is the founding director of LSU's highly successful MFA program in Creative Writing, and the founding director of the Jewish Studies Program. His students have gone on to successful writing careers, among them poets Martha Serpas, Virgil Suarez, Mark Yakich and Anthony Kelman and fiction writers Olympia Vernon, Ronlyn Domingue, Laurie Lynn Drummond,and Connie Porter. He holds a B.A. from Yale College and graduate degrees from Johns Hopkins and Stanford Universities.