Usually our day begins on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar, but today we were picked up for our tour of the city.The following photos are just a highlight of our two hour tour. On August 29, 2005, the infamous Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans with vicious force. 80% of the city was under water from a few inches to over 22 feet. Katrina was not the cause of the flooding, it was the failure of these flood walls to hold. Built by the Army Corps of Engineers, they failed and a disaster ensued.
Five years after Katrina, you can still see houses marked with symbols indicating that the house was searched, how many were found alive or dead, including animals. Interestingly some of the homes residents have returned, but the markings remain,
In the Lower 9th Ward, the hardest hit area with 22 feet of water, many of the residents have not returned. This house was rebuilt with a boat bottom so that it will float.
HGTV's Holmes of "Holmes On Holmes" designed many of the houses that Brad Pitt raised money to build. This is one of them. The goal was to build 100 homes. Twenty-six have been built.Prior to Katrina, the population of New Orleans was 500,000. It is currently 310,000. Many people who evacuated never returned. 700 are still missing. It is believed that many may have changed their names and established new lives - criminals, abused women, etc. A fascinating piece of history is New Orleans cemetaries. Because New Orleans is six feet below sea level, they discovered that when there is any flooding or heavy rains, caskets would wash up out of the ground. The Spanish developed the burial system in place today. The tomb is opened and the casket is placed inside for a year and a day. Then it is removed, the body is wrapped in a sheet and a ten foot pole pushes the body into the bottom of the tomb where it decomposes. Each tomb can hold 100 bodies. The expression, "I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole," originated from this burial process. This tomb is the Tu Jacgues family tomb. The Tu Jacque Restaurant is the second oldest restaurant in New Orleans.We traveled through the Garden District, which is where we are staying, to see some gorgeous homes. Originally there was a cattle slaughterhouse in the Garden District. Residents planted lots of flowers to disguise the smell and hence its name. It was established in 1834. This home seen through the window of our tour van, is Sandra Bullocks house.
This home is author Anne Rice's home.
After our tour we headed to the French Quarter and had lunch at the Fleur De Lis cafe. It was a busy place and we had a long wait. We didn't order anything unusual, just a panini for me and salad for Jim, but it was very good!
This afternoon we decided to get a ticket to visit the Audubon Aquarium, IMAX, zoo, and Insectarium. Today we did the aquarium and IMAX. It was a nice aquarium, but can't compare to Baltimore's.
I must confess that we did round two of iced cafe au lait and beignets. They are just too hard to resist! We then spent several hours walking throughout the French Quarter, hopefully walking off the beignets! Too tired for dinner! Not sure what we will do tomorrow. Check back to see!