Where 10 Years Ago Feels Like Yesterday

Gabi at Green Light

The towering highways wind and turn above the Lower Ninth Ward, casting long, serpent-like shadows above the decayed and broken homes. It’s hard to believe that the Hurricane Katrina was ten years ago, but for the inhabitants of the Lower Ninth, it still feels like yesterday. But Greenlight strives to make the inhabitants feel like it’s tomorrow. From installing high-tech CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lights) fixtures, to creating aesthetic and simple gardens, all free of charge.

Today, we helped Green Light perform both of these services. But the most powerful experience for me was truly seeng how different everything was in the Lower Ninth. The main city of New Orleans is comparable to Manhattan, Miami, Chicago, and ever other major city in the United States. But in the Lower Ninth, all that changed. The streets haven’t been serviced in years, and are scarred and mistreated. It seems that every other house is abandoned and destroyed, still marked with an eerie paint, counting the number of corpses found within the home after Katrina. The paint has been around for 10 years, and was drawn by the first responders. The houses that have been rebuilt are much more cheery, and are fairly new, painted with bright colors of orange, green, and pink, which clash heavily with the grey and black of the thick metal girders covering the windows and doors. Even after giving people a few minutes heads up that we would be coming, they would still cautiously open the door, and ask who we were before unbolting and unchaining the entrance to their home. Even the way they talk is different. We all had trouble understanding what some were saying, as they spoke their twisted and changed, yet unique, version of the English language.

In the end we built one garden for a grandmother and her grandchildren, and replaced nearly all the lightbulbs in two homes. While it seems fairly minuscule, this simple work will save each family hundreds of dollars in the years to come. Hundreds that they can use to better their lives, their homes, and their neighborhoods. And as the neighborhoods get better, more people will move in, and more decayed houses will be torn down and rebuilt, and the Lower Ninth will become the strong and unique community it was all those years ago.

~ Gabi Glueck – 11th Grade, Highland Park, NJ