An area previously only known to locals, the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans rose to an unfortunate fame after Hurricane Katrina devastated its streets. I remember the terror I felt watching the same aerial shots of the completely flooded lower nine repeatedly on tv from my evacuation spot in Vicksburg, Ms. Even worse was when the power went out and there were no updates at all. My mind’s eye replayed the helicopter shots of the tips of trees sticking out from flood water over and over until we regained power and hoped for a positive update.
Anyone who lived through Katrina knows that no positive update came.
Ten years later and the Lower Ninth Ward remains mostly uninhabited. Entire blocks sit vacant with nothing more than overgrown plots of land where houses used to stand. However, there is one section where 105 colorful homes are gathered together. Locals refer to them as “Brad Pitt houses” as they were built by his “Make It Right Foundation” in an effort to return lower nine residents to the neighborhood and place them in homes that are safer and more sustainable than the homes that washed away. We visited with one resident, Ethel Fletcher, in her beautiful new home and listened to her story. It was featured on Neighborworks America’s site to help let attendees of the Comeback Communities Summit in New Orleans June 18-19 learn a bit about the area they will be touring. It was a pleasure photographing Ms. Ethel who, in her 81 years, had accumulated many stories and an excellent sense of humor.
Read her story here:Comeback Communities: Make It Right Foundation