Nicole Bengiveno

Unintentional Monuments to Katrina

At the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has yet to erect a formal monument to the catastrophe, which left 80 percent of the city flooded. Yet there are reminders everywhere, unintentional monuments to all that was lost and to those who have grappled with rebuilding the city.

Aaron Broussard, resident and member of the East shore neighborhood association in East New Orleans. He is concerned about the blight from abandoned and overgrown property in the neighborhood. This one blocks the sidewalk.
A portrait of community leader Aaron Broussard, resident and member of the East Shore neighborhood association concerned for his neighborhood and the blight he is seeing from absent residents and overgrown properties. He looks through a window of an empty house that still has debris from Katrina inside.
First on the list of community leaders is the blight of their neighborhoods. Pearl Cantrell, president of the Kenilworth neighborhood association in North East New Orleans is intrepid on the subject. Abandoned properties and absent neighbors are her biggest concern.
An overview of a junk yard along Almonaster Ave where towed Katrina cars sit until the future price of metal is good.
Roger Cull , of Stonehedge Construction a cement recycling business,, was vacationing in New Orleans with his family when Katrina threatened the city. Two days after she hit, he brought his construction company to New Orleans to begin the clean-up. He stands on chunks of New Orleans foundations, cement from houses, roads, and foundations destroyed by Katrina. His company has 350,000- 400-000 tons of recycled cement in piles, and from the top of one; a vista of his neighbor's junk yard where Katrina cars are being stored until the price of metal goes up in the future.
An overview of a junk yard along Almonaster Ave where towed Katrina cars sit until the future price of metal is good.
A portrait of Michael Dupont,59, standing near the overgrown lot where his great grandfather used his WWI pay to buy a house, and where his grandfather lived, and where his father and mother made their home; he holds a photo of the house that used to be. Because of miscommunication during the process of applying for Road Home assistance, their house was demolished unbeknownst to them and they recently received a bill from the city for the work.
In the process of being renovated, located along St Anthony Street in the 7th ward district, owner Juan LaBostrie said his father was born at this location and his grandfather was a brick mason, building the house piece by piece in the early 1040s. This house stood on six foot piers originally and In the recent renovations after Katrina, the house has been raised even more to go up another story. In the planning, he said, there was a miscalculation and the house was raised more than was planned. The surprise to the owner was that by doing so, his yearly flood insurance went from $1,100 to $300.
East Shore resident and community leader Aaron Broussard, stands near the deserted Curan Apartment complex that stretches for several blocks along Curan Ave. The blight of absent residents and overgrown properties are his first concern regarding the neighborhood. He used to live in section eight housing and vowed to buy his own home. He did it and now he wants to keep it nice. He wishes the abandoned apartment property would be developed into a shopping center for the east New Orleans neighborhood.
Much of the lower Ninth Ward is abandoned. The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center states: The Lower Ninth Ward Neighborhood has recovered 24% of it's population since Katrina showing 5,363 residents pre Katrina and 1,271 as of June 2010.
A portrait of  Lake Shore neighborhood resident Madge Goff,85, who still seeks shelter in the FEMA trailer parked in her front yard as her home is slowly being renovated from Katrina damage. She has had bad experiences with contractors and is doing what work she can while she waits.
Much of the lower Ninth Ward is abandoned. Homes have been torn down and debris removed, though on this corner of N.Galvez, there is a flicker of life: the street traffic light is still working green/yellow/red though not many cars come through.
The Katrina cross, a monumental symbol of courage and grief; the search and rescue symbol that was seen spray painted on buildings that were searched after the hurricane and flood, providing information on what was found inside of the homes and buildings. Tattoo artist Keel shows a snap shot from his portfolio of a tattoo he did on a New Orleans fire department EMT who came into his shop after the disaster. The EMT already had a tattoo on his arm of the city's symbol of the star and the crescent moon shape that he wanted altered; He asked Keel to make a tattoo of the spray painted X with the date of Katrina and the total number of dead from the disaster.
Abandoned property and overgrown yards are unintentional monuments to Katrina and the communities caught in limbo.  In the meantime, Charles Brimmer  (backround center) has mowed his absent neighbor's property for the past five years on the Ninth Ward block that he and his family has lived. He does it mostly for his family's safety.His brother Calvin, visiting from California (right) helps him with the job.
The former Gentilly Woods Shopping Center located along Chef Menteur Highway and Press Drive is surrounded by cyclone fencing sits abandoned. (Times Picayune:)The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority recently used public money to outbid a private developer for the abandoned Gentilly Woods Shopping Center, offering $700,000 more than its competitor to get direct control over a key recovery project site.
Mother's Restaurant located at 401 Poydras St was one of the first restaurants to come back. They have their Katrina story written on the back of their menus:. When they returned after the storm and flood, the owners tried to locate their employees, bringing back longtime staff, considered part of the Mother's FAMILY. Many of them had lost their homes, so nine FEMA trailers were brought in to the parking lot next door where they stayed. On Oct 15th Mother's reopened. Vice Admiral Thad Allen , the head of the disaster relief effort, was their first customer. Although their menu was limited and hours shorter, as locals returned city, they came back to Mother's. Today it still is a favorite with locals, especially going to the Saints games down the street at the Superdome,  but it also a big tourist draw.
The Superdome was symbolic as a refuge of suffering and misery and abandonment by the federal government as the disaster unfolded. And now it's home to the current Super Bowl Champions where the hometown team, the New Orleans Saints, won the deciding game, at home and are now the pride of the city. James Kirt, 58, works in the facility's maintenance department and was power washing the exterior in preparation for the upcoming season. Mr Kirt evacuated when Katrina was approaching. He lived in Texas and returned to New Orleans after one year.
Unintentional monuments dedicated to the lost dogs of Katrina. An up and coming neighborhood in Bywater, which was not flooded during Katrina; reveals a scene along Dauphine Street where dogs and owner are out for their walk and regular routine in life.