>Oh N.O.!

by jvaragona

> It was only 3 months ago that my fiance, Shannon, and I decided last minute to go to New Orleans to celebrate our 4 year anniversary and my graduation from college. It was a great experience, and now considering the events that are transpiring there due to Hurricane Katrina, we will cherish that trip even more.

Instantly I compared New Orleans to my hometown of St. Louis, MO. They have more of a reverence for historical landmarks and buildings there. The blocks are covered in old buildings, especially in the French Quarter. Their river walk is amazing, covered with things to do and things to see, like sculptures and other various works of art, not to mention the Audubon Acquarium.

St. Louis doesn’t have an acquarium or a river walk.

The French Quarter itself contains more to do than the entire downtown area of St. Louis, with its eclectic mixture of restaurants, shops, countless bars, and voodoo related spots (apparently New Orleans is the voodoo capital of the U.S., if not the world). Bourbon Street is only a small part of the quarter, and I found it actually kind of annoying, because all it is is bars and strip clubs, with balconies overhead filled with horny middle aged men hoping that one female will show her breasts to them. Such a sad world we live in.

That however, was one of a few drawbacks of this beautiful place. The streets are inhabited by more homeless people than any other city I have visited. Most keep to themselves, which I appreciate as sad as it sounds. I tend to give money to the ones that don’t beg. I wonder how many of them survived this disaster.

There already was a horrible stench to the area, reeking of trash, which is left curbside for pickup because of no alleys, and of sewage. Add several feet of water to that and god only knows what the smell is like.

They are saying that 80% of New Orleans is flooded now, with at least several feet of water. What we saw only a few months ago may never exist again.

One creepy aspect of the whole situation is the dead. The city has numerous historical cemeteries with people buried above ground in various types of vaults, sometimes very simple, sometimes very elaborate with statues and columns. There has been speculation that the remains from these cemeteries may get lose in the flood water along with the gas and oil that already contaminates it. An AP photo showed a body of someone that died in the storm surge floating in the water. Imagine remains of the already dead mixed with that already disturbing image. Those people were buried above ground because of fears that underground burials would not be secure due to the city being below sea level. It’s ironic that all of that may have been done for nothing if the cemeteries like St. Louis #2 is laid to waste.

New Orleans…I may have only got to know thee in a few short days, but I feel for you and your people.

I only hope the casualties were kept to a minimum, and this great city can recover from this mess.

For photos of the Hurricane’s effects in N.O., go to NOLA.com.