New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward by Marquita Dunn

LOWER9TH_MUSThe Lower Ninth Ward was a poor, mostly black neighborhood that Hurricane Katrina devastated, and its revitalization has been very slow. The ward lost  eighteen percent of its residents during the eighties. Poverty increased along with violence throughout the neighborhood, and city officials mostly ignored this. In 2004 the poverty rate was at twenty eight percent and eleven percent unemployment. Residents lobbied for better public school facilities, health clinics and protection against environmental hazards. The people of the Ninth Ward, however, refused to be forgotten. The neighborhood is fighting city officials and the national political powers to rebuild.

The landscape of New Orleans changed when the industrial canal divided the ward into two sections and cut off this neighborhood from the rest of the city. City officials  justified this decision by claiming the area was virtually uninhabited, but nearly 26,000 people-7%of the population of New Orleans lived in the Ninth Ward. This put the residents in a great risk of flooding.

On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans with winds of 130 mph There were 1,836 total fatalities with over 1,000 in the Lower Ninth Ward. Homes were flooded for 23-29 days and damages totaled 84 billion dollars. Celebrities have built new homes for residents giving them hope that the Lower Ninth will rise again. Riding thru and seeing the devastation 11 years later and the conditions these people are living under makes you wonder if this is just a dream? I certainly hope not.

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Display panel in a Lower Ninth Ward Park at Deslondes and Roman Streets.

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