Saturday, February 04, 2006

New Orleans, unimagined

I'm back from a quick TDY trip to NOLA. Flew down Thursday, arriving mid-afternoon.

The first thing I noticed was when flying in to land. I looked out the window. At first it looked okay, and then I realized they hadn't changed to blue tiles on roofs (like red is very common in Miami, for instance). What I was seeing were tarps over roofs. And then I noticed that every house had a trailer in front or in the driveway. The trailers were all recreation or travel trailers, the type towed. I saw one that had a wooden ramp leading to the door; that's not something you'd build if you thought you'd only be living in the trailer for a week or two... or maybe even a month or two. But, frankly, the trailers aren't really a longer-term solution. Ouch.

The airport felt empty. I mean, it wasn't empty, but it certainly wasn't working anywhere near capacity. Dark. Way under used.

On the drive out of the airport, I could begin to really see the remnants of Katrina & Rita. Fences were still down; roofs still off buildings; windows broken; some buildings nothing more than concrete skeletons.

All the way into town.

The ISC is no longer located at their facility on the canal; the ISC now has offices at the Navy facility just down the street, right where the canal enters the river. It's a huge, ugly concrete building with a giant parking garage attached. The facility houses various Navy and Marine Corps elements, and now the ISC for the Coast Guard. It's all semi-depressing, actually.

They had me in a hotel in the Quarter; the CG has a block of rooms which they're providing to various TDY and other personnel. Many of the CG's permanent personnel in the area still don't have permanent housing, so they're put up in several hotels.

Many traffic lights are still out. I saw crews working on electrical wiring in the streets. Debris still cluttering yards and streets. Abandoned cars. Buildings with roofs torn off.

I began to wonder what would happen if we were hit with a nuke. I can't imagine.

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