- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 6, 2006

VIOLET, LA - “Demolish Me.” It’s spray painted on the side of a mobile home in Violet, La., one of an endless stream of homes rotting amid the piles of debris baking in the hot southeast Louisiana sun. It’s about 90% outside today, and the flies are making use of the rubble. House after house, the spray-painted codes can be seen in different colors: neon orange, green, black. They line the streets here. It’s not a wonderful day in the neighborhood, but the people are friendly.

A friend told me cars were still perched in trees down here in St. Bernard Parish, so I came to see. Indeed, a car is in the trees not far from the town of Meraux, seen from E. Judge Perez Highway, across an open field, off in the distance. Was it blown into the trees? Did it float there and come to a rest? There’s nobody around who has the answer, nearly nine months after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to this land.

In the Lower Ninth Ward, progress is as slow as the politics. Houses sit on top of cars, water pipes spew water into the dirt. Cars with water lines can be seen upside down, backed up and on top of fences, and power lines dangle, tangled like spaghetti. Soon in the muddy puddles of filthy water, the nemesis of summer will be here in large numbers - mosquitoes. And it ain’t gonna be pretty.

What does it feel like to drive for miles and miles looking at complete and utter destruction? It’s in front of you, it’s out the side windows, and in the rear view mirrors. Passing by abandoned refrigerators sitting on the curb, it even seeps into the car like the smell of death. As you go on and on, soon it seems normal.

It’s like standing on the edge of the world. Keep your footing and hold on tight. Otherwise, you might just slip over the edge, falling, crashing and disappearing into the rubble and sadness. Hold on tight.


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