New Orleans' Long Road Back

What I remember most were the "for sale" signs: hundreds of them, row after row, neighborhood after neighborhood.

New Orleans: The sellers are plenty, the buyers are few.

It was my first trip this past weekend to the Big Easy since the big hurricane.

Post-Katrina, it's a very different city now.

You wouldn't know it from the New Orleans most conventioneers and visitors see.

The French Quarter still bustles. The hot hotels are still... well, hot.

But hurriedly trying to make a plane Sunday after avoiding a snarl in traffic, I got a different view — a far, far different view of those "for sale" signs.

Homes abandoned. Blocks butchered by Mother Nature.

I tried to imagine what those blocks looked like before Katrina — some clearly poor, most though, clearly not.

I imagine the lawns well kept, the yards well groomed, the neighborhood playgrounds, well played. Now they're ghost towns.

Row after row, block after block, of abandoned, broken homes. Some quite nice, all quite damaged, most for sale.

I imagine some clever vulture investor might pounce on these properties; I'm told going for but a fraction of what they sold for last year at this time.

But as yet, not a one I saw was sold, or "under contract." Most had only recently come up from underwater. Their owners far away, most never coming back, hoping between insurance and a good sale, they might come out OK.

I suspect not.

No one told me they were that desperate. With all those "for sale signs," no one had to.

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