Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Lakeview and West End... A Vast Wasteland

I don't even know where to begin.

I guess first everyone needs to know that this is where I have a home. This is where my sister, her husband and their two month old baby live - in the house where my father grew up. This is where countless friends of mine either live, race or live on sailboats. This is where I spend 80% of my time.

I'm a little surprised as I went through the pictures this evening... I only took about eight. I think I was in a state of shock as I walked around West End Park, Bucktown, Orleans Marina, Municipal Harbor, New Orleans Yacht Club, Southern Yacht Club and Lakeshore Dr. for the several hours I was there...

I'll try to take you through it.

Bucktown remains largely intact, but has become an enormous heavy construction zone at the point of the breach in the 17th St. Canal. The new Coast Guard Station weathered the storm perfectly, not losing a single window, and is now a HQ for all the construction efforts for the canal stabilization. There are probably 40 mobile homes and winnebagagos set up for worker's housing, of which there are plenty. The land that was built up for the new Bucktown Marina has become a massive heliport for Chinook helicopters, who were taking off and landing at the rate of one every couple of minutes. The security is heavy, but again I finelgeled my way in.

You'll notice in the second picture, to give you some scale, on the left there is a small yellow building right in front of that huge pile of debris - that's Two Tony's Restaurant.

I walked over the levee and along the road where to the right would be 50 or so shrimp boats parked in the canal, and then off to your left would be Sid-Mar's Restaurant and a bunch of houses. All of that is gone. All of it, down to the cement foundations. Complete loss.

In the third picture, I have but one comment about the water pipe draining the city -- they had better get more of those going, or else we will be under water for months. I understand about the pumping stations, but hell - there should be 30 of those pipes pumping out water!

Before I continue, I should let you know about the smell. Imagine a pile of crawfish left over from a boil which is allowed to sit in the sun for ten days, and then throw in a little raw sewage and you'll get the drift. And the bugs. There are swarms of biting flies.

On top of the pedestrian bridge over the canal, which is mangled but walkable, you can truly appreciate the destruction. Every stick and piling of The Dock, Jaegers, Brunings, and the constantly under construction Augie's is gone. The little odd decaying snowball shacks that had sat vacant for years are all gone. It's like there was never anything there except that old cement WPA railing. The parking lot is covered in debris, sand and mud. There are plates from Brunings, metal poles, beer cans, ripped cloth, pieces of ice chests... flotsam and jetsam.

I walked back up the other side of the 17th St. canal on the levee past the Coconut Beach Volleyball Courts, which are nothing but stinking mud and debris now, until I hit West End Tennis Club. It and the tennis courts are now under two feet or so of putrid blood brown water. Along the left side of the levee, starts a massive pile of debris stretching straight to the flood gates. At the gates it rises easily twenty feet high - made up of broken lumber, toilet seats, insulation, and countless artifacts of what is now crap.

The 3-story condos (in picture 4) which are directly to the right of the drak grey 3-story condos in the picture have had most of the top floor ripped off, yet other than the chest-high water in the Pier 8 condos - they appear sound. Also the two large condo developments, other than the water in the ground floor, appear to be perfectly healthy.

I went into Orleans Marina, and this was truly a sign of victory. In the well protected and built marina, I'd say 80% of the boats are fine. The ones that are not are obviously the ones where the asshole owners did not properly secure them and now their sailboat or powerboat rests oddly crooked into space and water or resting on top of their neighbors boats. Municipal is a whole different story... for pictures, click here.

I meandered through gates, fences and through the condo complexes until I finally got onto Lakeshore Dr. I headed down to the West End and Robert E. Lee Blvd. Intersection. The height and expanse of water is just bizarre. My family's house is right over there. Right over there through that water and through countless little bungalows that are other people's homes - filled to the eaves with that skanky water.

Turning back down Lakeshore Dr., here again were small victories. My favorite bar, the Hong Kong, though gutted, still stands. Unfortunately that foul restaurant, Joe's Crab Shack also survived.

I climbed up on the levee, fighting this weird urge to be mad at the lake and discovered at my feet amongst a ton of random debris, a long and heavy wooden plank that still held three of the original six silver plaques honoring Southern Yacht Club's sailors who won the Lipton Cups throughout the late seventies. It looked like it had been run through a sink disposal.

I took it with me and carried it back, retracing my meandering route in order to swing back towards West End park and the still standing New Orleans Yacht Club and the burned out husk of Southern Yacht Club.

What's shocking is that around West End park and the point, almost all of the boat houses still stand. Unfortunately, a fair amount of the great old-growth oak trees are down, some crushing cars that were already totaled and kicked around in the rising water.

I eventually climbed the stairs into NOYC, happy as I could be that the club was still there and placed the trophy on the bar. Next to it there were a few empty beer bottles, and I smiled knowing that someone, either alone or with another had toasted the club for surviving with a hot beer.

A couple of final thoughts... All of the wild Bruning's cats are probably dead. There is a huge developing issue regarding left behind pets... more on that tomorrow.

Finally... The trophy that now sits atop NOYC's bar will, in time I hope, sit back on the walls of Southern Yacht Club along with many other rediscovered historic items that lie on the levees and in the piles of garbage from this storied club's past.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn painfull sights to see. Keep up the good work. Im following each and every post. Later yoda

12:38 AM, September 08, 2005  
Blogger Manda said...

WOW. things will get better for you. everyone is saying prayers.

12:43 AM, September 08, 2005  
Anonymous ThorSinger said...

So sad. Thanks for sharing the small victories, though, like finding the trophy.

1:19 AM, September 08, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm reading everything too man, great post. How many people are still in your neighborhood?

-Ben N.

5:48 AM, September 08, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any doctors left in the neighborhood? Are your shots current? In all seriousness, be careful of the disease. Reports of search & rescue dogs dying due to exposure to water and dysentery among rescue workers. Shots for tetanus and Hepatitis A are being given.

7:29 AM, September 08, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for all you do. It is invaluable.

8:49 AM, September 08, 2005  
Blogger Carolyn said...

want to echo the comment about your shots. if you have running water, be sure to boil it. are you exempt from mandatory evacuation?
still keeping you in mind - Melbourne Beach

9:06 AM, September 08, 2005  
Anonymous Kelsey said...

I want to thank the other animal people. I've forwarded the petition, but Nagin is not who it should go to. Forward it to every Animal Control Office and Humane Society in every parish in Louisiana. We're close.
I'm coming in Saturday with a group from our parish Humane Society.
They need volunteers in Baton Rouge at Ag Center to care for rescued animals.

10:20 AM, September 08, 2005  
Anonymous Lisa said...

Great posts, thanks for the updates and pictures. I am just wondering if you know any information about the Lakeview area closer to City Park Ave...I have pets that may or may not still be in my apartment on Canal Blvd, and would do anything to get them out. I have not heard specific information from the rescue organizations, so I do not know if they have been rescued yet or not. I am worried sick, and will come into the city if I can find a way. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks.

11:27 AM, September 08, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

troy, you are doing a great job! love ya! hope you are doing okay.

your little couz, Amber

12:33 PM, September 08, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The "Catino" will live on in our hearts, even if it's going to have to be torn down. There will be another day, when when will "roll 'dem bones, Catino!"


3:46 PM, September 08, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those WPA boys surely knew how to build, didn't they? Here in New England we have a few artifacts from those days - highway bridges and sidewalks - that are still in great shape. The Merritt Parkway in Connecticut has some beautiful Art Deco bridges, all different.

Best wishes to you and all of yours from up here.

Ellen in Conn

5:13 PM, September 08, 2005  
Blogger BRUISER said...

TAG!!!!! --- I am in will rebuild ... I have a friend with me right now who lives on Opal Street right behind the Robert E. Lee Shopping Area the picture you showed ......She was on the Second floor at 231 Opal Street and she wasw wondering how high the water was ? Can you please help ...she was hoping to come down and retreive her well fed cat......any info from anyone will be appreciated...

please send response to :

8:09 PM, September 08, 2005  
Blogger TAG said...

There are so many pets dying in this city right now it's disheartening.

There are MANY humane society volunteers staged in Baton Rouge as we speak, but are not getting clearance to enter the city.

I may have good news regarding this tomorrow.

8:34 PM, September 08, 2005  
Blogger BRUISER said...

Thanks Tag Much Appreciated.

10:15 PM, September 08, 2005  
Blogger William said...

Keep up the good work, I will be back to check on your new updates. Incredible job! I have a blog/website that
might interest you

wooden boat

5:58 PM, January 03, 2006  

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