While I tell people back home that I live in New Orleans, it’s like saying Toronto for Whitby, or Peterborough for Bridgenorth. I actually live in Arabi which is a small town in St. Bernard Parish which is the parish directly adjacent to the Lower Ninth ward in Orleans Parish (New Orleans).
St. Bernard was completely flooded during Katrina. Floodwaters ranged from 2 to 28 ft and lasted for two weeks.
Details on the state of the parish and return are found in the 5 year anniversary report. Return is happening slowly but surely and the parish is changing.
A more visible symbol is found here:
The 2010 State of St Bernard Report says “As our population growth continues to meander upward and now is estimated to be in the 42,000 range, awaiting the official census count in April of 2010, we have seen a great increase in the diversity within our community. While it is perceived that about 65% of the population is made up of St. Bernard residents who returned home, the other 35% of the population appears to be newly established residents.” The influx of new people is important as St Bernard Parish was about 93% white before the storm and is greatly diversifying.
Much of the flooding came from the impact of the waters rushing up the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet aka the Mr. Go.
It is an often ignored area in the story of Katrina. New Orleans was 80% flooded, SBP was 100% flooded. But SBP was more cut-off from the media who converged on the city (you had to get through the badly flooded ninth ward to get to SBP). So it is exciting to read stories that look at the impact of the flooding in St Bernard (plus, since they are technically related to my PhD I don’t have to feel like I am taking time away from school!).
At the local library in SBP I recently came across Lost in Katrina by Mikel Schaefer which reminded me of one of my other favourites The Good Pirates of the Forgotten Bayous: Fighting to Save a Way of Life in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina by Ken Wells. Next on the list is St. Bernard Fire Department in Hurricane Katrina by Michelle Buuck.
Schaefer’s book is so-far amazing, especially now that I am more familiar with the area. The scenes and businesses – and in some cases people – are familiar to me. I know where they are.