Sunday, April 16, 2006

Louisiana's Forgotten

This afternoon we decided to take a drive out into
the bayou country around Abbeville. As we headed south
towards the tiny town of Henry, we began to realize
what we were seeing...

This home had been pushed from it's piling foundation,
now crumpled and perched at the brink of the bayou waters.

Hard to see, but in the distance this home sags onto
itself. Note the huge dumpster parked in front of it.

Like some kind of "day after" scene, these mobile
homes and cars were "relocated" up the road and

Two more abandoned homes silhouted against
the sunset.

All along the way, the countryside is dotted with nondescript
white travel trailers next to empty homes. Huge piles of
debris are stacked next to the 2-lane road, depressing
piles of dented appliances, highchairs, sofas...
anything and everything that came out of someone's home
in a tangled mess of insulation, tree branches, and twisted
hunks of metal.

Nope, not Katrina.
This we soon learned, was the legacy of Hurricane Rita.
The tidal surge caused extensive flooding, even washing
salt water into the crayfish beds and rice fields. It will
be at least two years before they are clear of the salt water
infusion, which means there will be not "crops" of crayfish
or rice for that period of time.

It's eerie, sobering, shocking...and largely unnoticed
by the rest of the country. We were told those who didn't have
flood insurance are gone for good, with no hope or help
or assistance from any quarter.

We definitely saw signs of that sad outcome, with damaged
homes left abandoned...a forlorn elementary school
reduced to a muddy ghost town. The local Catholic church
had the doors propped open, through which we could see the
completely destroyed interior.

Everywhere we looked, signs of Katrina's partner
in crime homes obviously moved a quarter
of a mile from their original foundations, homes caving in
on themselves, or dangling on the edge of the surrounding bayous,
where they had been pushed by the relentless floodwaters.

The "lucky" ones are those with the plain vanilla trailers
parked in their yards, who are slowly trying to put their
lives back together next to their tilted, crumbling, and
devastated homes.

We were judicious in our photo taking, not wanting to
offend or intrude on those who are trying to piece their
lives back together. But we felt it was important to
show what's these people are living every day down here,
with very little attention being paid to their plight.