Friday, March 14, 2008

Thursday, the weather was fine. We walked through Audubon Park in the heart of New Orleans and came across this tree filled with egrets napping. Old oak trees everywhere, people out enjoying the sun, pink, orange and white azaleas as big as rhododendrons, and everywhere people painting, rebuilding and reroofing houses.

Fodor's New Orleans (2008) says that out of the 200,000 houses damaged by Katrina, about 71% were damaged by flooding, some with 9 feet of water, and about 80% of the city was flooded. Out of some 460,000 residents pre-Katrina, some 260,000 have returned (as of May 2007). The result is easy driving (except for potholes). The city just announced a major street repair effort; they plan to repair 27,000 damaged or destroyed streets over the next 18 months. That's a lot of potholes. And that's only New Orleans. This doesn't include all the work needed along the Gulf.

Today we visited the Botannical Gardens in City Park to find volunteers from Massachusettes down for the week, digging weeds. Many plants were destroyed by the flood waters that came through here in a surge, but it's still very pleasant to stroll through the gardens, admiring the ferns in the Conservatory there, especially the Dwarf Fern, and stopping to appreciate the lovely sculptures throughout, especially those by Enrique Alferez, a Mexican artist who began working on sculptures back in the WPA in the 1930s. I'll close tonight with a picture of his larger than life "Renascence" (cast stone, 1998). I love this sense of rebirth that's emerging everywhere here in New Orleans. Make it a good week. Beth

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