Greetings from the Big Easy! Here begins the first step of my out of state research for my dissertation.
I'm staying across Lake Ponchatrain from New Orleans with relatives in Mandeville. So we drove across the 24 mile bridge (longest in the world) and through all the city's devastation. I saw where the breach happened in one of the canals and it's smaller than I would have imagined for all the damage it caused. Many houses are abandoned, some are rebuilt, and FEMA trailers dot every few driveways for those who still do not have livable houses. The scene is bleak to be honest. One sign read "Bulldoze house but don't cut down tree." The tree weathered the storm, so why destroy it now? One church was getting ready to re-open this Sunday and a team of congregants busily prepared.
My first stop was Dillard University, which fared decently during Katrina minus its library. I was unable to ascertain before I arrived that the special collections have relocated to storage while the library is being rennovated. An unfortunate consequence.
So I went onto the Amistad Research Center at Tulane. Tulane and the surrounding mansions and parks look untouched. Partly that's because they suffered less damage and partly because they were repaired first. The only time I recognized the impact of Katrina was overhearing a conversation of some professors discussing the university's new evacuation plan. Class and race inequalities were thus impossible for me not to see today.
But Amistad was great... I got through two boxes today and will peruse several more tomorrow they are bringing from off-site storage. I got so excited exploring these materials, like I was starting to put pieces together and to discover. I hope this is representative of how the rest of my trip will go.