Photo of the day: New Orleans after Katrina


People have been talking about New Orleans differently since Hurricane Katrina. No matter how the city’s name slips into conversation, the disaster named Katrina is typically addressed and typically, it must be. Anyone who knows NOLA will vouch for the tremendous damage caused by this storm and the circumstances surrounding it. But many people who know NOLA will also confess: the city still has life in it; New Orleans is still teeming with an energy exclusive to the city. And as an homage to the trip I’m taking to New Orleans tomorrow, I am posting this photo of New Orleans post-Katrina, taken by Arla Parker.

I’m visiting New Orleans through next week, generally speaking, for Voodoo Festival and Halloween. But a broader reason for my trip is my desire to keep up with the city. I have been visiting the Big Easy regularly since 2005, but my first visit to the city was exactly a month before Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans has gripped me since the first visit and I look forward to exploring the paths this upcoming trip leads me down. Have you been to New Orleans since Katrina? What are your thoughts?

And, as always, if you’d like to submit a photo for Photo of The Day, just upload a photo to the Gadling Flickr Pool.

Top 5 Travel Attractions in New Orleans

Civil War secret message decoded

Civil War, civil war
A coded message sent to the beleaguered Confederate commander of Vicksburg has been cracked, the BBC reports.

The Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond has had the message in its collection for more than a century. It had never tried to decipher the code of seemingly random letters until this year, when they sent it off to retired CIA codebreaker David Gaddy. While Gaddy is trained to break sophisticated modern codes, this early cipher was still tough enough to take him several weeks.

It turns out the message was sent to Confederate General John Pemberton telling him he wouldn’t be getting any reinforcements. The city was the key to the Mississippi River and had been under siege by Union forces for months. The message was dated 4 July 1863, the same day Pemberton surrendered. The bad news was probably the last straw. With his men short of food and munitions and the city in ruins, Pemberton’s last hope was getting reinforcements.

The fall of Vicksburg opened up the Mississippi River to Union gunboats and cut the Confederacy in half. It was one of the turning points of the Civil War.

[Photo courtesy U.S. Army]

Abandoned Six Flags New Orleans video is creeping us out

Six Flags New Orleans, which closed as Hurricane Katrina approached in 2005 and has never reopened. The sign outside the park still announces that it’s “CLOSED FOR STORM.”

The theme park was in New Orleans‘ Ninth Ward, one of the hardest hit areas during Katrina and the flooding after the storm. Though many of the rides still stand, Six Flags says that saltwater from the flood has corroded them to the point that they cannot be saved.

The only ride to survive the flood – Batman: The Ride, which was elevated above most of the floodwaters – was refurbished and moved to Six Flags Fiesta Texas in 2008.

After viewing this video of the rotting theme park, I’m wondering why the City of New Orleans, which owns the land, isn’t renting it out as a location for horror movies. Louisiana photographer Teddy Smith shot this video in October, with permission from the City of New Orleans.

As Gizmodo notes, you almost expect to see a horde of zombies come ambling through a scene or two.

Katrina exhibit opens in New Orleans

It was the most catastrophic event in New Orleans history. Hurricane Katrina destroyed large swathes of the city and left hundreds of thousands homeless. Now the Louisiana State Museum has opened an exhibit chronicling the natural disasters that have visited New Orleans, culminating in the most recent and worst.

Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond, a 6,700 square-foot multimedia exhibition, opened this week. The show traces the history of the city’s relationship to the elements and explores how such disasters can be averted in the future. Interactive displays show how hurricanes form, why they are so prevalent in the Gulf, and how Katrina broke the levees and caused such widespread destruction.

Many individual stories are told, like that of Ken Ballau, who used his boat to rescue four hundred stranded civilians. His boat is part of the display. Claudio Hemb’s jeans are exhibited too. Thinking he was going to die, Hemb wrote his and his wife’s names, her phone number in Houston, his social security number and blood type on his pants so his body could be identified and his wife informed.

The museum hopes the exhibit will act as a catharsis for New Orleans residents, as well as educational for the thousands of out-of-towners who visit the museum every year.

[Image courtesy U.S. Coast Guard]

Could a hurricane still disrupt your vacation?

If you have a vacation planned to the Gulf of Mexico coast between now and the end of November, the odds that it will get screwed up by a hurricane are declining rapidly. Hurricane season ends on November 30, and it looks like it’s going to be remembered as a pretty mild one, with only 16 named storms, nine hurricanes and five hitting Category 3 or higher. There haven’t been any major storms to make landfall.

So, it looks like 2010 will resemble 1951, according to an Insurance Information Institute blog post – the only year to have at least five major hurricanes but none actually making landfall in the United States.

There’s still a chance that a big one could disrupt your travel plans: think Hurricane Wilma in 2005, for example, which followed Hurricane Katrina and was the fourth costliest hurricane in terms of insured losses ($11.3 billion, adjusted for inflation).

[photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video via Flickr]