New Orleans’ Upper 9th Ward Resembles A Zombie Apocalypse

Uninhabitable flood-damaged homes, overgrown streets and the stench of mold are more suggestive of a horror movie than a suburban community.

Monday marks 11 years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Upper 9th Ward, a predominantly African-American neighborhood. Yet, the area remains littered with remnants of former residents’ shattered lives.

Blocks of storm-ravaged homes, piles of garbage and streets choked with vegetation serve not only as an eyesore to local residents, but also as a constant reminder of the tragedy that befell their city.

The city is “forgetting about us back here,” resident Roger Lewis Sr. told The Huffington Post. “We’re the same people that pay the same taxes, so why should we be put on that back burner after all these years? They rebuilt Canal Street, St. Charles and Mid-City and yet they’ve not rebuilt here.”

The photos below show the hurricane-scarred neighborhoods that look much like they did the day flood waters receded.

  • Press Park
    David Lohr/Huffington Post
    A 237-unit housing complex built in the 1970s, the streets of Press Park are pockmarked with flood-damaged homes.
  • Discarded Tires
    David Lohr/Huffington Post
    Many vacant buildings in the area now house illegally dumped garbage.
  • ‘Not A Dump’
    David Lohr/Huffington Post
    Some lots surrounding flood-damaged homes are cared for by local residents and, in some cases, the city or property owners.
  • Gordon Plaza
    David Lohr/Huffington Post
    This slice of suburbia consists of a swath of neat, single-family brick homes that are surrounded by well-manicured lawns. However, just across the street is the abandoned Gordon Plaza Apartments.
  • Gordon Plaza Apartments
    David Lohr/Huffington Post
    A 128-unit low-income complex that housed mostly elderly residents, the Gordon Plaza Apartments were shut down after Hurricane Katrina. Today, a vast majority of the flood-damaged buildings are still standing.
  • Still Standing
    David Lohr/Huffington Post
    Skeletal structures like this one can be found throughout the area.
  • Press Park
    David Lohr/Huffington Post
    Years before Hurricane Katrina was even a blip on the radar, residents learned that a portion of Press Park was built, unbeknownst to them, atop a 95-acre landfill containing approximately 20 feet of industrial waste. The EPA found the grown to contain more than 150 chemicals, 49 of which were found to be cancer-causing. In 1994, the federal government declared the area a Superfund site.
  • Morton Elementary School
    David Lohr/Huffington Post
    The $6 million Morton Elementary School was ordered closed by the federal government after it was revealed the school, like portions of Press Park, was built on top of a toxic landfill.
  • Morton Elementary School
    David Lohr/Huffington Post
    Ordered closed in 1994, the school remains standing. While the federal government took steps to partially excavate contaminated soil in the area — a $42.8 million undertaking — homeowners adamantly petitioned for relocation. A class-action lawsuit was filed against the city, Housing Authority of New Orleans, and the Orleans Parish School Board. Some residents received minor reparations from insurance companies, but litigation in the case is ongoing. The site is still on the federal government’s list of Superfund sites.
  • Eye Sore
    David Lohr/Huffington Post
    Eyesores like this one can be found throughout the 9th Ward.
  • Unkempt Properties
    David Lohr/Huffington Post
    Residents say unkempt properties have become home to snakes and rodents.
  • Bad Air
    David Lohr/Huffington Post
    The stench of mold lingers in the air around Press Park. The smell is more apparent to visitors than residents who say they are so accustomed to the stench that they don’t register it anymore.
  • Not Every Abandoned Structure Is A Loss
    David Lohr/Huffington Post
    Some property owners still plan to rebuild and have boarded up windows to keep out rodents and curiosity seekers.
  • Burned Out Vehicles
    David Lohr/Huffington Post
    Contributing to the blight are burned out vehicles, which can be found scattered throughout the 9th Ward.
  • Reclaimed By Nature
    David Lohr/Huffington Post
    In some neighborhoods nature appears to be taking back the land.
  • Abandoned Shopping Center
    David Lohr/Huffington Post
    Closed after Katrina, this shopping center in the 9th Ward never reopened.
  • Demolitions Stalled
    David Lohr/Huffington Post
    In the years since Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Housing Authority has demolished 154 of the townhouse units in Press Park and fenced in dozens of remaining units. The city says ongoing litigation has stalled the demolition process.
  • Suburban Jungles
    David Lohr/Huffington Post
    Some streets are so overgrown they are nearly impassable.
  • Choked By Vegetation
    David Lohr/Huffington Post
    Unkempt streets that are not completely choked by vegetation have become dumping grounds.
  • Red Tape Hinders Progress
    David Lohr/Huffington Post

    According to City of New Orleans Chief Resilience Officer Jeff Hebert, the state’s conservative property laws have made it difficult to completely eliminate the remaining blighted structures, not just in the Upper 9th Ward but also throughout the city. The law, Hebert said, requires city officials to deal with each blighted property on a case-by-case basis — a process hindered by red tape.

    “There is a [lengthy legal] process we have to go through to either demolish or put them up for sale,” he said.

    It remains unclear when the issues will be remedied.

Source: New Orleans’ Upper 9th Ward Resembles A Zombie Apocalypse

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