It's taken me a bit to write this - mainly because I don't know what to say while knowing I want to say something. My trip to New Orleans was good. I didn't travel to the outskirts (or rather, where the real flood damage was) and therefore wasn't disappointed by the lack of rebuilding.
This is Canal St in November 2005. There weren't many pedestrians and all the shops were closed. I do remember there being a band on one corner and people dancing. Mostly I remember seeing ladders and debris through the windows. The streetcars were not running.
This is Canal St January 2009 (facing the opposite direction though). Every time we walked over this street it was full of people. This night was a little quieter (as people were at the football game), but still many signs of activity. Heavy police presence (for those rowdy Cincy fans!) and the pretty Christmas lights. I think on this street is where I felt the most difference.
The area we stayed in was still quiet with streets being repaired. One of the areas we worked in seemed to have more people living in it (as well as LOTS of new construction) and lots more vegetation. The other place that felt totally different was the ride from the airport. So many businesses were open (when we flew in we stopped at the first restaurant that was open and that took a LONG time to find.) I saw the Saints working out at their facility (but not fast enough to whip out my camera and take a pic...boo). Lots more traffic. It was a good thing.
I saw this hanging in a museum and it really helped put the flooding in perspective for me. That's a lot of space...8 Manhattans.
There is still work to be done. There are still houses to be built and people to be reunited with the city they love. But there is still (and has always been) hope. There is a pride in the city's residents -helped along by a Super Bowl win and pretty decent basketball team (yeah, D West and Po-z!) that is contagious. This city still holds a place in my heart and someday in someway, I'll be back again.