Katrina Plus One Year, Part 2 - The Lakeview Water Line:

On most of the homes of Lakeview, a large middle-class "neighborhood" that is in the north part of New Orleans, bordering Lake Pontchartrain, as well as on the gorgeous, old homes that line Canal Boulevard heading south, there is a conspicuous line, like in the bowl of an unclean toilet. Chances are, if you are standing on the ground next to a lined house, that line is above your head, whoever you are, however tall you are. Because, see, when the eastern levee wall of the 17th Street Canal gave way, water poured in. A few blocks away, the western levee wall of the Loudon Avenue Canal, which borders Gentilly, gave way, too. The coursing waters of the lake flowed out of the funnels, heading towards each other and then south. By the time all was said and done, Lakeview was the lake, under at least ten feet of water.

The Rude Pundit hadn't seen Lakeview the last time he visited, stopping then at the ghost town that was/is Mid-City. A year after the hurricane, the woman driving the Rude Pundit around told him, "At least the streets are passable," and that was true. We could drive up and down the miles and miles of streets where the storm's wreckage was still blatantly obvious. Yes, many homes were gutted, many more were for sale whatever state they were in, about one out of every twenty was rebuilt or in some stage of rebuilding, and so, so many were untouched since the storm, with a year of lawn overgrowth in the neverending Louisiana heat. Outside one home, the front lawn was filled with piles of pill bottles and packages, obviously tossed for lack of refrigeration. And across the street a small bulldozer flattened the earth around a plot of land where the home had been completely torn down. (They do not have basements in New Orleans.) There was one crew working to clean the streets this Saturday.

"There's rats everywhere," said the woman, as the Rude Pundit insisted that he cross one of the lawn jungles to look inside a house. A machete would not have been inappropriate. The door had obviously been hacked open by an axe, although the visible outside of the house bore none of the fluorescent spray paint marks that told you whether or not there was a body there. Even up the steps of the porch, the feces-colored water line was up to his chest.

Inside, the house looked like the waters had only just receded, except, of course, for the tell-tale mold and mildew that infects so many of the homes here. The Rude Pundit pulled up his shirt over his nose so he could breathe. The furniture, which was senior citizen-chic, was tipped over or shoved aside, mud was still caked in corners, and on the walls of the living room, the water line stopped less than a foot from the ceiling. If someone stayed behind in the that house for the storm, they got to endure that submarine film horror of the water rising and rising, wondering if it would stop before the breathing space ended. Flyers strewn on the floor and stuck to the door offered services for gutting it, hauling it all away, rebuilding. The flyers were being overtaken by mold.

"How was it?" asked the woman driving.

"It was someone's home," the Rude Pundit sighed, trying not to sound melodramatic, but wondering how one could help it since, for many, many thousands of New Orleans residents, it was.