Monday, September 18, 2006

Demolition Standards Differ
in Ninth Ward and Lakeview

House demolitions in the Ninth Ward are substandard compared to those in Lakeview, the first video installment from Loren Feldmen of 1938 Media (part of the Chartreuse sponsored New Orleans Truth project) reports.

At about minute 6:24 into the first video, an unidentified person takes the cameraman on a tour of a demolished home in the Ninth Ward and one in Lakeview, and points out an important difference: in Lakeview slabs are removed and utilities are pulled back to the street, and lots are filled and graded and ready to build.

Not so in the Ninth Ward, says the unidentified man on camera. Utilities are left in place and so are slabs, and the lots in the Ninth are not filled and graded. The Lakeview lot "is ready to build," says the unidentified person speaking, implying those in the Ninth Ward are not. "That's what happens when you have money."

Some immediate questions that come to mind: were both houses in the video demolished by FEMA contractors, or was one perhaps done by a homeowner or their insurance company? What are the addresses involved so we can find out more? Who is the unidentified guide in the video? If it turns out that both were done under a similar FEMA contact, then there is a major disparity that needs to be addressed.

Most of the video is a set of man-in-the-street interviews with New Orleanians, and I found it generally interesting. People who've been following closely for the past year won't hear much else new here, but this video is well worth the fifteen minutes of your time.

I'm going to try to get in touch with the producer and 1938 Media, so we can identify the gentleman talking at 6:24 and learn more about how there are two standards for demolitions: one ready-to-rebuild in Lakeview, the other incomplete and substandard for the Ninth Ward.

If this is generally true (that is, applies to all demolitions in Lakeview and the Ninth), someone in FEMA or City Hall owes the property owners in the Ninth Ward the difference, so everyone can have a ready to rebuild lot at government expense.

This is an important new angle to the story of disparities between the east and the lakefront, and I hope other New Orleans bloggers would put aside any animosity of the past and help get this new wrinkle out into the public eye.

stay on the trail, man. i'm curious to know what you'll find.

There is a long discussion of this posting in a chain of emails on the BlogNOLA Yahoo Group. These can be found at in messages dated Sept. 18.
I spent several days in Lakeview and also several in the 9th ward when I was down there. What struck me was how much more demolition was going on in the 9th Ward compared to Lakeview. It appeared to me to be FEMA contractors doing the demolition there and there was a lot of them and alot of demolition going on. Many trucks for hauling debris and many different sites being demolished. I have quite a few pics and video. But I didn't see anything like that in Lakeview. In fact I didn't see any demolition on the days I was there.

It left me wondering how it is determined what is demolished and where and when. Does anyone know?
I largely stayed out the capetblogger thing because I thought that even legitimate complaints sometime reflect badly on the complainer, not that it usually stops me from complaining. But it would be funny if the people who came down here to show us how it's done failed to ask the most obvious questions.
yes both areas were hit hard. but one had more in the pocket resorces.

the slab thing confuses me. all the houses i knew in the lower nine were on piers vs. the homes in lakeview on slabs.

again i think it goes back to people who have resources who are able to come back and rehab before their insurance and the lra money comes in.

you cant participate from miles away....

yah it's fucked up but go to that for the
real story.
I don't know for sure but;

All of the demolitions I've seen in Lakeview and Gentilly appear to have been private contractors.

I suspect that the demolitions in the Lower 9th are FEMA or City contractors demolishing condemed houses. Very few houses in Lakeview were condemed.

I know many more houses in the Lower 9th were damaged by flowing water, especially near the breach. The breaches which filled Lakeview did so slowly so the water merely rose adn fell, relatively slowly, doing much less structural damage.
I recall reading that FEMA will not pay to remove slabs, so clearly the Lakeview slab removals were privately contracted. There is no story here.
Even if the Ninth Ward demolitions are by FEMA and those in Lakeview by private contractors, there is still a story here, just a different one. FEMA should be providing the same opportunity to return and rebuild that people with private insurance coverage for demolition receive. There is a well established international principle of right of return, and the unequal treatment violates it.
Mark, if everyone is treated the same way (no FEMA-paid slab removal), how is that "unequal treatment". That is the essence of equal treatment. Private insurance apparently pays to have the slab removed. Any homeowner can buy private insurance. There may be some conspiracies out there, but this ain't one of them. No story here.
I'm not suggesting a conspirary, only that people in the disaster area should be treated equally. FEMA should step up to demolish slabs and remove utilities, or the right of return is made a mockery of.
I had my house in Gentilly demo'd. I chose to have the slab removed. I know of two houses in my area that were removed but the slabs remain. Why? Cause the owner wants to reuse the slabs.

Also, I signed up for and was told I qualify for city/FEMA demo, but as far as I've heard, New Orleans has not yet begun to do voluntary demos, only mandated demos.

For argument's sake, I'd say that FEMA-funded demos should include slab removal if the owner chooses. But demos that are done because of safety should NOT include slab removal because the slab poses no danger.

That's my two cents!


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