Hope in NOLA (from the Ninth Ward, naturally)
Republicans? You can put your social engineering Plan on hold. You know, The Plan to obliterate the city, house the port and refinery workers in trailer company towns, creating a NOLA diaspora, and then, with no black or poor or working people around, auction off the French Quarter to Disney. Yeah, that Plan. It seems that the residents themselves are taking matters into their own hands:
In the weeks after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward became an icon for a city's ruin.
But now people are trickling back to the rutted streets, carrying crowbars and hammers into houses to spend their days knocking down mold-infested walls and ripping up muddy carpets. They're hoping to revive a beloved neighborhood.
"I'm rolling the dice," says Edgar Woodridge, taking a break outside his small one-story house.
The efforts of people like Woodridge reflect a little-understood aspect of the Lower 9th Ward that may be its salvation: Its 20,000 residents are poor but uncommonly entrenched.
The neighborhood is 97% black and has a per-capita income of $10,300 - less than half the U.S. average of $21,587, according to the 2000 Census.
But 54% of its homes are owner-occupied. That's higher than New Orleans' overall rate of 47% and exceeds the rates in thriving cities such as Denver, San Francisco and Washington. Homes are typically worth about $53,000, or half the U.S. average, Census figures show. That makes them affordable to people who work in factories, casinos and hotels.
"If all of us come back," Corey says, "hopefully we'll encourage other people."
No decisions have been made about the future of much of New Orleans, including the Lower 9th Ward.
"No decisions"? Really?? Sounds like Edgar Woodridge has made a decision....