Defend New Orleans: Lakeview v. ENOLA v. Algiers
July 29, 2008 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Post-Katrina Recovery: I recently caught corners of Lakeview and New Orleans East. While Lakeview seemed more affluent and maybe older and more established, it didn't seem like it would have great advantages over NOE that would account for the relative degree to which it appeared that Lakeview was recovered compared to NOE. Is NOE really behind the curve in recovery and if so, why?

Additionally, as my junkets to Algiers and through the Garden District had me curious: I understand that the brackish and otherwise toxic water snuffed out most vegetation below a certain level. Were these two areas also landscaped in a generous manner before the storm?
posted by Ogre Lawless to Society & Culture (11 answers total)
Not sure if this applies, but I was in New Orleans a few months ago and somebody mentioned that the French District is actually higher up from the water than most of the other more damaged places. Apparently, when settlers originally moved in they built on higher land, and the newer dwellings were built on lower land. Because of that, there was less damage to the french district and other older buildings. Again, not sure if this applies to Lakeview and NOE.
posted by ets960 at 9:54 AM on July 29, 2008

not quite understanding your question, but i can tell you that lakeview & new orleans east are two very different animals. lakeview is largely white, middle/upper middle class, and noe is ... not. while i know some very fine people who live in the east (now & before the storm), it was also a place widely regarded as being avoided at night. (this is a distinct difference from 'back in the day' when the plaza shopping mall was the place to be & real estate development was booming in the east.)

the greatest advantage of lakeview, in regard to katrina recovery, is most likely insurance. the lakeview homes were probably just better insured. coupled with money from the road home program, most of the people i know who rebuilt in lakeview did so with minimum out-of-pocket expense. the other advantage of lakeview is that it's inhabited largely by white collar professionals & maybe their jobs were somehow more secure.

can't comment on landscaping in algiers (i don't go over to the west bank much) but the garden district landscape, typically, is pretty well manicured & maintained. fwiw, i sometimes have to remind myself just exactly how bizarre it was to see that live-on-the-top brown-and-dead-on-the-bottom vegetation right after the storm. (same with the oaks w/lopped off branches. debris cleanup crews took trucks down the streets and cut off everything sticking out over the curb.) at least the plant life in new orleans appears to have recovered nicely.
posted by msconduct at 9:56 AM on July 29, 2008

ets960--both lakeview and the east had water to the rooftops, so they were pretty equal on that issue. (although somewhere around march '06 i heard a guy from out east say he still had standing water at his house. don't know how true that is.)
posted by msconduct at 9:58 AM on July 29, 2008

Just tossing this out, but there could be hidden reasons besides insurance and affluence. For example, infrastructure (sewers, power, etc) in one area could be more robust than the other, resulting in quicker permitting.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:42 AM on July 29, 2008

Response by poster: CPB may be on to something insomuch as that goes: our guide alledged that power was still out in Eastern New Orleans, something I had a hard time believing. Likewise, sewer was being actively dug out there, so its possible its both. As for the demographics of the East, the areas I travelled all seemed to have the finer appointments of suburban lifestyle that I would commonly attribute with firmly middle-class folks here in California, the sort of people regardless of ethnicity I would expect to find out rebuilding, if even by their own hands.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:08 AM on July 29, 2008

I don't really understand your question but I live in Algiers and we didn't really suffer much in the way of damage. From what I understand, and even in my case, I had more wind damage than water damage. As for landscaping, Algiers is a suburb and I suppose like in other suburban areas many people take great pride in their lawns, etc.
posted by govtdrone at 11:27 AM on July 29, 2008

I left New Orleans in December of 2006 so obviously my response is going to be quite dated. But at that time, there was an enormous discrepancy between Lakeview and NO East in terms of recovery. While neither area was seeing the remarkable revitalization that occurred downtown and in the Garden District, Lakeview was clearly ahead on the road to recovery.

New Orleans East, on the other hand, seems to be the land that time (and the media) forgot. Whereas you would routinely see homeowners working on their places out by the lake, in NO East it was like a ghost town. I gutted several houses out there and you would spend the whole day and not see another person - not a car would drive by. It was completely eerie. I have no idea if that situation has changed since I left.

As for reasoning why the East hasn't (or hadn't) recovered as quickly, the other Mefites have accurately laid a picture of the discrepancy between the two areas. I would have no problem believing the power is "still off" in the East - if there's no one to buy the power, the companies have no incentive to run their facilities, check the systems, repair the poles and wires.

One other comment I might make is that the homes in the East are much further from the "services" available in the rest of the city. Uptown was able to rebuild because it received, proportionally, less damage than the rest of the city. Mid-city was able to recover because it was closer to Uptown. And Lakeview is a reasonable distance from many of the same things (I mean grocery stores, gas stations, etc.) In the East (at least in Dec 2006), there was *nothing* open for miles upon miles.
posted by AquaAmber at 1:54 PM on July 29, 2008

to continue what aquaamber said: the utility companies were in far less of a hurry to restore services to the few who were attempting rebuilding in the east (much to the frustration of a few of my friends) than they were in getting lakeview back online. this was a factor of sheer numbers. many of the folks rebuilding in the east were doing so with one or two houses every block or so; in lakeview, at least 2 or 3 familes/block were attempting it. from a financial standpoint, the utility companies were putting their resources where they stood to make the most profit. [and even when the population supported it, it was 2 months before electric, 5 months before gas, and well into 2006 (june, i think) before phone service was restored to my midcity neighborhood.] believe me when i say it wasn't because people weren't working to get things up and running; the sheer magnitude of the job required that they parcel out the crews to areas where the most people were living.

also, regarding 'the finer appointments of suburban lifestyle' in the east: when i first moved to new orleans 20 years ago, i worked out in the east & thought some of those apartment complexes looked pretty swank. i was told that at one time they were, but due to overall deterioration of the neighborhood (specifically drugs, gangs, & crime), lots of the buildings were also pretty dilapidated structurally. i think a fair amount of them had been turned into section 8 housing (subsidized housing for the poor), and were roundly abused.

fwiw, i had a coworker who bought a condo out there about 20 years ago & tried to sell it a few years later because of the rapid increase in crime. he had it on the market for quite some time before he sold it for something like $20k less than he owed on it.
posted by msconduct at 2:40 PM on July 29, 2008

Response by poster: Gov'tdrone -- I was asking mostly if Algiers (which I got to walk through for a bit) is typical as far as what I would have seen had I traveled in those areas that had received flooding prior to the storm. Sounds like it maybe. Those areas are particularly desolate as nearly the only thing standing is buildings and extra tall grass in spots.

AquaAmber -- your last point is an interesting one. And as far as I can tell two years later, the East still isn't much different. Lots of gutted homes and bulidings -- all very clean and all very empty. The scope of it was truly unimaginable.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:53 PM on July 29, 2008

I just got back from a week volunteering in New Orleans, staying in a Presbyterian camp in New Orleans East. While the area looks a lot better than it did a year ago, I do agree with you about the difference between Lakeview and New Orleans East recovery rates.

One thing that was mentioned several times by folks we were working with is that the hospital (Methodist?) in New Orleans East closed. The closest hospitals are now the central city ones, which can be downright inaccessible due to traffic at certain times of day. New Orleans East residents who have returned are having trouble accessing healthcare, particularly in emergency situations. I don't know if that is part of the cause, or just another symptom
posted by hydropsyche at 4:21 AM on July 30, 2008

I thought of another possibility. In the older parts of the city--Uptown, Broadmoor, even places like the 7th and 9th Wards--houses have been passed down through families for generations and people own their houses outright. In a newer area, like New Orleans East, owners seem more likely to have bought their house, or built it within their lifetimes, and so more likely to have a mortgage. Could this be part of it?
posted by hydropsyche at 4:31 AM on July 30, 2008

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