In some ways, New Orleans has gotten better since Hurricane Katrina. The restaurant scene, for instance.
But drive just a few miles outside the French Quarter and a different picture emerges.
This is definitely a tale of two cities.
Some parts of the Big Easy, such as the Ninth Ward and Treme, don't look a whole lot different than they did the day after Katrina came ashore -- more than seven years ago. On a ride-along with three advocates for the homeless group Unity of Greater New Orleans, it didn't take long to realize just how much is left to do in this unique American city.
There are still thousands of abandoned homes and buildings -- more than 10,000, according to some counts, maybe as many as 15,000. Many of the houses are still adorned with the spray-painted "X'' that became a symbol of the devastation during those awful days back in 2005, when it was used by searchers to let everyone know the structure had been checked and how many bodies could be found inside.
Christopher Weaver barely escaped the floodwaters after the levee just a block away from his house in the Lower Ninth Ward came crashing down. He's returned to a rebuilt home, but most of his neighborhood is marked by vacant, overgrown lots or abandoned homes that still bear the scars of Katrina.
With the Super Bowl blimp flying off in the distance, Weaver was asked what life is like for people like him.
He shook his head and looked at the abandoned lots across the street, obscured by weeds that are taller than he is.
"You can see it for yourself," Weaver said. "It sucks."
-- Paul Newberry -- http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963
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