New Orleans, Magazine Street
This morning it struck me for the first time that the New Orleans accent is really a French accent. Not that it sounds French-- but the nuances and emphases are French. "I'm comin' back wit' y'all."
Everyone I passed this morning said hello. The bicycle rider who had to swerve as I crossed the street called out, "Excuse me, ma'am."
I thought I would have a lot to write about New Orleans, but I understand now why the reporters felt overwhelmed, why they couldn't take lots of pictures. The life of the city is necessarily concentrated in the parts that weren't flooded, but that was only one-fifth of it: for the most part, a wealthy one-fifth. Yesterday morning I drove out North Rampart Street and on into Saint Bernard Parish, where my cousins and some reporters were the first rescuers with their boats five days after the storm. Then I drove around Lakeview, where my uncle and his brother grew up, and Fontainebleau and the old apartment building on Napoleon where I used to live. The water came as far as Freret.
The main street in the part of Saint Bernard I went to is called Paris Road. I wanted to take a photo of the sign, but most of the signs were blown away in the storm and haven't been replaced. All over the area hit by Katrina, stop signs have replaced traffic lights. theThe people who still live there are in white trailers from FEMA. Most of them are far away.
How do you describe a silent city? Where birds are the loudest noise? Block after block after block of houses with no one in them.
Not one person left in these housing projects. Not one person left in the nice houses by the lake. A few hardy people stripping drywall in St. Bernard, who wave as I go by. The crowded French Quarter isn't crowded. In the morning when we come down for breakfast at the hotel, the only people in the breakfast room are the owners, talking over how to spend the inadequate insurance money. Is it worth investing so much when the tourists may never come back?
I hope they will. New Orleans needs