In 2018, I found myself in New Orleans – a place I’d always wanted to visit but hadn’t yet had the chance. As a part of my trip, I felt it necessary to visit the Lower Ninth Ward to pay my respects. If you’re not familiar, the Lower Ninth Ward is the area of New Orleans hit the hardest during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It’s approximated the storm claimed over 1800 lives in the five day ordeal before the National Guard was mobilized and relief efforts began. It’s unknown how many of those deaths took place in the Lower Ninth Ward, but the area was completely destroyed.
I expected to find a neighborhood that, perhaps, had some remnants of the tragedy that happened more than a decade ago, but had been mostly rebuilt. It had been 13 years, after all.
What I found instead was a forgotten time capsule. A small percentage of houses had been rebuilt, but most of the area was in complete disrepair, and many of the residents who had survived the storm still lived in the condemned houses. As of the writing of this post, the levee that failed and caused the city to flood has still not been repaired.
Having just spent two days on Bourbon Street – an area that maintains its reputation for parties and tourism, I was appalled that this egregious violation of human rights was still taking place less than five miles away. So I did what I felt I could do for the situation – I went back to my hotel and grabbed my camera. My hope is that by continuing to shine a light on this democratic failure, we can not only demand justice for those that lost their lives and their homes, but we can prevent such a catastrophe in the future.
The Lower Ninth Ward is so much more than the tragedy that befell it. Before the storm, it was a hotspot of cultural diversity and pride in its rich history. If you would like more information, or would like to contribute to this effort in the form of donations, please visit the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum here.