NOLA’s arc

By VANESSA CZARNECKI  |  September 12, 2007

It’s a word game. Trying to evaluate New Orleans these days, it always is.

Too many ideas have been floated — raze crime-ridden areas and replace them with parks and hotels, for instance — but little has actually been accomplished: no simple answers, no plan to move forward, nothing but a miasma of red tape. So people are doing the best they can, relying on volunteers and on themselves. “If you just wait for the president and the government,” he says, “nothing’s gonna get done.”

It’s the better of times and still the worst of times these days — the tale of one city now fighting its way back from the brink.

Two years later, scant silver linings are on the horizon: re-opened businesses, parades and dancing in the street, a sense of camaraderie and defiance to beat the odds.

“People who you used to just say ‘hi’ to, now you treat ’em like family,” says Bertrand. “It made us stronger. It really did.” He repeats this last line several times, to let it sink in.

To let you know this matters.

Of course it does. It’s the way back. Five, 10, 20 years, no one knows how long it will take. Most agree New Orleans will never be the same. But nobody really knows how it will be different.

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