“I’ve lost all sense of what’s normal.”

August 25th, 2006 by Editor B

I’m famous at last, quoted in an article on the Village Voice website by Anya Kamenetz, a former New Orleanian.

“I’ve lost all sense of what’s normal,” says New Orleans resident Bart Everson. His house, which took on five feet of water, stands at a crossroads in the city’s recovery — one of the points where people staring at destruction must decide whether to stay or go. At the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, he and his wife are back in their Mid-City home, in a neighborhood where fewer than 30 percent of the families own the place they live in and which most visitors might see only on their way to Jazzfest.

Absentee landlords have abandoned more than half the nearby buildings in his district. His neighbors across the street, an elderly African American woman with her three grandchildren, are gone, replaced by someone who seems to be a squatter. Newly arrived Hispanic laborers are paying twice the pre-Katrina rents, yet some have no electricity or gas. Some pile their unbagged garbage in the street. The block around the corner is full of FEMA trailers, and across the street is a grocery store untouched since the storm. Inside, rats scurry over a floor slick with rot.

And yet Everson, who works at Xavier University, and his wife, who teaches school, have no plans to leave. They are renovating their flooded first story. They complained to their City Council member about the garbage and the rats, and used Spanish-language flyers to persuade new neighbors to clean up. And most of all, the Eversons are active in their neighborhood organization, which like dozens around the city is working independently to devise a plan for rebuilding. Their group is proposing to form a community redevelopment corporation to buy blighted houses and provide a path to homeownership for those willing to renovate them.

“We want to give people a reason to move to Mid-City,” Everson says, especially people from more wrecked neighborhoods who can’t afford to buy in the areas that stayed dry. “I really think we are the best of the worst, as far as a flooded neighborhood that’s coming back.”

Also quoted: fellow NOLA bloggers Maitri and Karen Gadbois of Northwest Carrollton.

They also put up a slideshow of my photos. They even paid me ($150) for the photos, a totally unexpected windfall and ego-boost. The photo editor said I should shoot for money. How flattering is that?

7 Responses to ““I’ve lost all sense of what’s normal.””

  1. Adrastos Says:

    And you’re a marksman as well? ;-) That’s great, Bart. If anyone needed some good news right now it’s you.

  2. bullet Says:

    Congratulations.

  3. Karen Says:

    Hey..That was a bit of a surprize. This has been an interesting week. I guess we should try and get an acutal copy of the paper. The slideshow looked great. Congrats

  4. NorthWest Carrollton » Northwest Carrollton in the Village Voice Says:

    […] Read the rest of the article which includes our Mid City Neighbor, Bart Everson […]

  5. judyb Says:

    Well deserved kudo’s to you!

  6. Karen Says:

    Don’t give up the ship! It may take longer than we like but Recovery is not Pretty as I have found out. Any kind of Recovery.

  7. b.rox » Blog Archive » Conflicted Says:

    […] Update: Well, the conversation did veer the other way, a little. You can listen here. Also I should mention that I got my names confused; I spoke on the phone not to Alison (the host) but to Angela — the same Angela who put a slideshow of my photos online with Village Voice back in the summer of last year. […]

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