Yes. Ten years.
Some buildings are still in a state of limbo. I don’t know everybody’s story. I can’t possibly know. But, when I stumble across a house that I can actually enter without breaking into it, I like to explore. Even though it’s pretty obvious what I’m looking at, often I don’t know why I’m looking at it. I don’t know why work on a building stopped. I don’t know what became of the people who used to live in the house. I always hope that they found a better life wherever they landed when they evacuated. I know what it feels like to walk into your home after the water finally dried out. You hope for the best. You usually find the worst. Maybe, they couldn’t find enough money to keep going. Some of the houses in the 9th Ward were either woefully underinsured or had been paid for so long ago that the current owner didn’t even bother to insure it.
I can’t tell you much about the houses in these pictures. The first three pictures are of one house. Most of the immediate neighborhood in which I found has been rebuilt. The bottom picture is of a second house a few streets away. A very special house. I’ll tell you about that in a shorter story directly under the picture.
The house in the first three pictures was cleaned out and remediated. A lot of personal belongings were swept into one room. If you need a dirty and muddy set of dinner plates, this is the place. The walls were stripped down to the two by fours. And, that’s about where the worked stopped. The front room, which was converted from an outdoor porch, had not been swept out. It remains as it looked after the flood waters receded and the house dried out. That’s where I found that straw hat in the second picture. I don’t think it’s been moved in ten years. I’ve brightened image up a little bit, but the hat is embedded into the floor. Who knows?
The interior speaks to something I say a lot. Nature doesn’t care. It doesn’t care about good. Or bad. It always seeks stasis. The weeds and plants are growing through the floor. Through the walls. Through glass that was long ago broken.
If this house isn’t repaired and doesn’t get demolished, eventually it will just revert back to nature. The roots of all of this plant growth will eventually weaken every point in the house. It will just collapse. It may take years. Or, decades. It will happen.
And now. The bottom picture.
Normally when I do this kind of urban exploration I go out by myself. Not yesterday. I was accompanied by the lady of the house. We have very different careers. We can’t always do stuff together. Besides, some of the places I go are sporty. That’s an old term for dangerous. You can figure out the rest of what I’m thinking. She hasn’t been to many of the places that I’ve been photographing this week so she really wanted to see for herself.
When I saw this place I had to check it out. It is the last remaining house on a city block that is just grass and a few bits of foundation. We stopped. I took a few pictures. I saw the Katrina Cross — the spray painted sign that tells you who the first responders were, when they came, where they came from and what they found – and wanted to get closer. I started to break a little trail. As I got closer I could see the numbers, but I still couldn’t read the bottom. I worked my way a little closer and stopped in my tracks. I told her to back out. She said later that she thought I ran into a snake or even a little alligator. Some kind of wild critter.
That wasn’t it.
This place is sacred ground. The bottom spray painted line said, “Two Bodies.”
I can’t, or won’t photograph a cross like that. Two people lost their lives here. I cannot imagine what the last moments of their lives must have been like. I don’t want to know. May they rest in peace.
I have no idea why this house is still standing. The city has been pretty efficient in tearing down abandoned houses even though there are a lot of them. Usually, those look like they are ready to collapse on their own. Despite what happened here, the building doesn’t look so bad.