Katrina . . . Photos of a devastated city
You thought I was exaggerating, when I said that Hurricane Katrina turned modern reinforced concrete buildings into rubble, didn’t you?
Although they look like they were taken a couple of days after the hurricane, most of the photos you are about to see were made in the last week in February or March 1, 2006. One could not ask for a professional more qualified to deal with storm damage than a historic preservation architect. I had also brought along the materials that I needed to show people how to use the sun to distill drinking water, construct temporary toilets and build water tight shelters from debris. There was still a terrible shortage of potable water in New Orleans. All of the water lines were contaminated and the pumps weren’t working. However, I was never allowed to tell anyone in a position of authority how the people could create their own water and build their own shelters.
In my first trip to New Orleans in early October 2005, I was not allowed to visit Houma and not even allowed into the core city by National Guardsmen. Even five weeks after the storm, there was still no one for me to offer my services to. Everyone was running around like chickens with their heads cut off and the police were trigger happy . . . assuming anyone without a uniform on was either a looter or a mugger.
The first National Guardsmen checkpoint rejected my letter from the Houma Nation, asking for my assistance. I then walked to the next check point a couple of blocks away and told the soldiers that my dogs were experts in finding cadavers. The dogs and I were immediately given special ID tags. I thought I had told a fib, but my two herd dogs turned out to be very good cadaver dogs . . . but such an experience is the making of nightmares. Only people with press credentials were allowed to walk around the city and take photos, so I was only able to take a few photos, when there were no cops or soldiers around.
Virtually nothing was done in New Orleans the first six months. As of March 1, 2006, most of the city still had no electricity, no operating traffic lights, no garbage pickup and for that matter . . . few human occupants outside the French Quarter and affluent neighborhood around Tulane University. East New Orleans would look like Hiroshima for several years. Until February 27, 2006, the nearest gasoline pumps were 38 miles away. On that day, a convenience store reopened in Slidell, 33 miles from the French Quarter.
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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history.Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.
Latest posts by Richard Thornton (see all)
- Video: Fifth anniversary of the filming of “Mayas In Georgia” - June 23, 2017
- Eastern Band of Cherokees being investigated by FBI . . . 7 arrests already made! - June 22, 2017
- Did Uchee traders from Georgia establish colonies in Cuba? - June 22, 2017
- Map: South American and Caribbean Peoples in the Southeast (1540 AD) - June 21, 2017
- Baracoa, Guantanamo . . . the Cuban Connection - June 21, 2017