NEW ORLEANS (CNN) – The Lower Ninth Ward here in New Orleans is so depressing. I spent part of the day driving around the miles and miles of destruction. Whole blocks are just empty lots. Where homes once stood, there are now only concrete slabs left. You see an occasional trailer where a family has tried to re-establish their lives. Some of the residents are trying to rebuild their actual homes. But it’s extremely difficult.
My guide was Peter Kovacs, the managing editor of The Times-Picayune, the newspaper that won a Pulitzer for its coverage of Katrina. He’s been through this area so many times. He knows the empty lots and the missing people who have been forced to resettle elsewhere around the country. He’s not upbeat about the Lower Ninth Ward ever being what it was. What a sad story.
In the course of the tour, we came upon Charmyne Fluker. She was visiting there with her elderly mother who had lived in a home in the neighborhood for years – only to see it wiped away by the storm. They were forced to move to North Carolina. This was the first time her mother had come back to see the devastation and to understand why there was no real opportunity of actually coming home. Charmyne told me her mom had to see the area with her own eyes in order to reach finality.
There is so much that needs to be done. What is encouraging, Kovacs told me, is that about a million people from all over the country have come to New Orleans since Katrina to volunteer some of their time to help rebuild. Some spend a day; others weeks.
This weekend, the NBA is having its All-Star Game here. NBA officials, players, coaches, and fans are doing their part – painting, cleaning and building. But they are also doing their part by simply being here.
–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer