Apparently Forgotten Victims of Katrina

Oct 31, 2005 by

I’ve noticed an appalling lack of concern for certain victims of Katrina. Very little attention is being paid to the plight of Lakeview, and therefore very little is being done to help out the Lakeview residents (I’d like to point out that a similar argument as this can be made about St. Bernard Parish and The Plaquemines, but I don’t have as much personal experience with the situation in The Parish to write effectively on their behalf). The majority of Lakeview residents are hard-working middle class families with their 2.3 children enrolled in Catholic schools (most Lakeview girls I know went to Dominican or Mt. Carmel, and the boys went to the male counterparts thereof). I’m painting the neighborhood with a broad brush here – there was also a VERY large elderly population, many of whom either drowned or died in the evacuation. The majority of Lakeview residents don’t need exactly the same type of assistance as the majority of residents of the lower 9th.

The news has been full of images of the houses lifted off their foundations and moved into the street, or crushed flat – in the 9th Ward. Take a drive in Lakeview, west of Fleur de Lis, and tell me that you don’t see IDENTICAL devastation. People’s things were destroyed, and MANY lives were lost. For a small listing of those who perished, go to and click on the memorial link.

Even so, despite the utter devastation (I’ve posted pictures in the past, and will post more if such is necessary to make my point), Lakeview is positively teeming with people. The people aren’t the buses and caravans of politicians, who somehow managed to skip our neighborhood in their tour of N.O. East and The 9th Ward. These are the residents of Lakeview, coming back to rebuild.

And herein lies the problem. Here we have literally hundreds of people gutting their houses (I’ve helped tear out plaster and sheetrock – it’s very easy to do when the materials have sat in 8+ feet of water of over 2 weeks), but then not being able to take the next step. Why can’t they go any further? The city won’t tell them what they can and cannot do! People whose homes are structurally sound and constructed within the requirements of the floodplain map have gotten no answers to their questions about the possibility of new building codes. Must the homes be raised? Must the lots themselves be raised? The majority of Lakeview is approximately 5 feet below sea level. People were required to build their houses up to 2 1/2 feet below sea level. They still got 8, 12, even 20 feet of water in their homes. Many people want to re-build houses over above-ground basement/garage combos, but the current zoning laws would make that very difficult for many reasons. Hell, we don’t even know if the government’s going to do that gawdawful usufruct project in our neighborhood.

It’s not for lack of trying that we lack answers to the most fundamental of questions. There have been several Lakeview residents’ meetings. The mayor and various other politicians have been invited to come to them to speak to us and try to answer some of our questions. Our own councilman, Jay Batt, failed to show up to a meeting of approximately 500 Lakeview residents! The mayor has never accepted one of our invitations, and the vast majority of our neighborhood voted for him!

I have heard the argument that Lakeview is being ignored because its residents have a long history of being able to care for themselves. My great-grandparents noticed that the children of Lakeview had no easy access to a library being so far from Uptown, so they donated a library to the city. It’s on the corner of Harrison Ave. and Canal Blvd, and was fully functional and well-attended until Katrina flooded it with what appears to be at least 6 feet of water (might be more like 10 – I can’t bring myself to go in and see the wanton destruction of tens of thousands of books and the beautiful oil painting of my great-grandparents. I knew my great-grandmother well.). This is a pro-active neighborhood. After all, even in the face of utter devastation, we have managed to organize highly publicized and well-attended residents’ meetings on multiple occasions. However, that pro-activity is being stifled by the lack of information. We are being met by “I don’t knows” and “Say whats” from the government every step of the way. The neighborhood has come as far as it can without answers to our problems. We aren’t the ones asking for billions of dollars from the federal government – we’re really just seeking answers to the questions that will tell us how we are allowed to proceed. Shouldn’t it be easier to just answer the “can we” and “will you” questions than to get the federal government to appropriate billions of dollars to an undeniably corrupt state that has failed on every level of accountability? Apparently it’s not!

And how about East and West Lakeshore, the northern boundary of Lakeview? About 20-40 houses in West Lakeshore DID NOT FLOOD AT ANY POINT. Entergy has figured this out, and hooked us up with power. The gas lines have been restored. Bell South says we should have phone service in a few months at most, and Cox Communications was apparently suprised to hear that a whole swath of Lakeview hadn’t flooded, and was re-populated by people who want cable tv and internet access. The Times-Picayune was equally to shocked to learn of our little island of dry land (I think my mother informed them of our existence around last Wednesday, and they apparently never heard of dry land in Lakeview), and the myriad residents who want delivery of their newspapers.

East Lakeshore has a similar story. The 2 blocks closest to Canal Blvd/Lakeshore Dr got about 1 foot of water. Their miniscule (in comparison) flooding was NOT the result of the 17th St. Canal Breach, or the London Canal breach (or the industrial canal breach, believe it or not). Apparently, the callous IDIOTS on the levee board FORGOT to sandbag the canal blvd. pass over the levee. This pass is several feet (at least 5, and more like 8) below the top of the levee. It gets sandbagged every time they even think a hurricane might come to New Orleans. Not this time! Some of our neighbors in West Lakeshore stayed in the neighborhood through the Saturday after Katrina hit. They never saw sandbags at the pass over. They DID see wind-driven lake water come rushing over the street in walls of water and flow down from Canal Blvd. onto Amethyst St, which is somewhat lower in East Lakeshore than in West Lakeshore. Incidentally, none of this water made it over the lake cat. 3 levee itself, or through the metal floodgates at Topaz and Lakeshore Dr. in West Lakeshore.

Lakeview was and still is truly abandoned by the city, and that neighborhood is one of the major tax bases that contributes to the city! If the local politicians are really serious about bringing back the city, they should do everything in their power to make sure Lakeview residents can come back so that the city will have their tax money to fund the necessary repairs to the infrastructure and schools! All that it will take to get them back is answers to their questions. No such answers appear to be forthcoming at any near time.

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