After another day of volunteering at KIPP St. Claude primary and middle school and handing out sandwiches and snacks we made to people who lived underneath the interstate, we decided to pay a visit to the part of New Orleans that was affected the most by Katrina: the Lower Ninth Ward. Visiting the Lower Ninth Ward was very, well, jarring. As someone who has travelled to Uptown New Orleans more times than I can count, seeing the amount of damage that occurred just a bridge away from where I come to visit really shed a new light on the horror that was Hurricane Katrina. Separated from the river by a cement flood wall, the area looked as if it had gone under many renovations in the past few years.
Something that really stuck out to me was a single dilapidated house a mere 200 feet from the massive flood wall. This small brick house was surrounded by renovated homes with bright colors and new building materials and really stood out against its background. The house had holes in its already falling apart roof, broken windows, rusty metal poles, and plants overgrown both inside and outside of its walls. Our driver, Reuben, told us a story of this run-down house; he said that six people lived there when the flood wall broke, and only two people got out of the house alive. This really surprised me because I realized how quickly everything tumbled down for the people who lived in the Lower Ninth Ward.
I believe that this little house has been left as a memorial and a reminder as to what happened just 12 years ago, and I hope that people like me who know the less-affected parts of the city get to see this place and learn just as much as I did today.
– Marielle Smith