Google Earth views of
the 9th Ward after Katrina
It is difficult to say when these photos were
taken, but probably within the first 6 months (probably less) after Katrina
hit. The water is pumped out, so that dates them at least 6 weeks
afterward (since it took that long to remove it all), but the debris is
greater (i.e., less had been removed) than when I visited about 6 months
after Katrina. I'm sure someone retasked satellites or arranged for
special aerial photos to capture aftermath the likes of which this country
has never seen up till now, but there's no indication exactly when.
Since Google Earth will eventually be updated
with more current images of this area, I thought it best to capture some
of the views still available. You are welcome to use Google Earth
itself to explore this other areas more thoroughly. In fact, if you
find other post-Katrina sites worth commenting on, please feel free to
forward the images and/or text to me, and I'll try to post it.
Below is a wide view of the
most famous chunk of the 9th Ward. To the left is the Industrial
Canal. The light-colored (tan) area in the middle-left is one of
the locations where the Industrial's retaining wall burst and wiped houses
off their foundations.
This is a zoom in on the
lower right of the image above. In the top left of this one, that
long gray structure is actually a barge that came from the Industrial Canal.
You can read more about that at Wikipedia.
You can also see many houses moved off their lots. Small storage
sheds are nowhere to be found. Those often ended up even miles away.
Even with lawnmowers in them, they would rise up and float away.
We found one yard on the other side of the 9th that had three of them,
none of which originated there.
This is a little farther
north. You can see the barge in the lower right this time.
The break in the Industrial was here. As far as I know, no demolition
of homes had yet commenced by this point. (There were too many legal
entanglements involved in destroying the property of people who could not
be found to give authorization.) Everything you see cleared from
here was done by the water.
This is still farther north
along the Industrial Canal. There is some construction going on at
the left where the retaining wall of the canal is being rebuilt.
It isn't just being repaired. The original wall was basically just
corrugated metal (albeit stronger than you're probably picturing) embedded
in the levee. Technically the levee didn't break (which is the expression
many mistakenly use); the wall atop it did, although the in-rushing water
probably gouged away sections of the levee after the fact. The new
wall is taller and thicker concrete. The Berlin Wall looks wimpy
This was a particularly bad
conglomeration of homes. This is apparently where many of the houses
that were pushed out of the previous images ended up. As you can
see in the middle left (and elsewhere), sometimes they were literally in
the middle of the street. Almost all of these displaced homes were
gone by a couple years after Katrina. Our most visit to the area
(as of this writing) was 12/07, and only a few such houses remained.
Still farther north, more
of the same, only worse.
This is the far northwest
corner of the 9th Ward. The second (though apparently smaller) break
occurred in this area, which is evident from the silty coloration in place
of the green.
A zoom in on a particularly
bad spot in the middle of all this, a couple blocks over from the Industrial
The green at the top of this
picture is the playground of a school in the neighborhood. Of note
is the debris. Before the flood hit, there was a lot of wind damage
from the storm. I'm sure a lot of this was from the winds that arrived
before the houses were smashed together by the water.
At the bottom of the frame is a blue tarp-covered
roof. This was apparently a house that was deemed salvageable.
Blue roofs were a common sight around the entire area hit by Katrina.
About every other house in my parents neighborhood had one of these on
it to shield against leaks until a contractor could make it out to them.
The fact that this is the only one visible by this point in time speaks
to fact that most residents didn't return to anything liveable enough to
address with measres such as this.
All the cars are right-side
up in this picture, but that wasn't always the case. We found a few
that were in the path of the water and were flipped. most cars ended
up crammed among houses or under collapsed carports and such.
I would love to have seen
this spot from the ground. There's a house on its side, turned there
by the force of the water. Most people fail to understand that there
was more than one factor at work here. Houses that were nearest the
Industrial Canal weren't merely flooded; they were hit with a steady and
rapid flow of water capable of doing what you see below. This is
in addition to the winds that preceded all this.
Even several blocks away
(farther east) of the Industrial, there was still a lot of damage.
Houses are shifted off their foundations* just like (though probably not
as bad as) those nearest the Canal.
*Most houses in this area were not built
on slabs but rather were pier and beam structures. Further, these
were almost exclusively wood, so they floated. A bad combination
given what was to come.
2007 Alexplorer. Images obtained through Google Earth, obviously.