I'm still in New Orleans. There's so much to do, and I will probably be here the remainder of the week.
I arrived in the area Monday night, a week ago, and entered the city for the first time last Wednesday. My immediate response was joy at being home and seeing it, not on CNN but with my own eyes. It's beaten down. It smells terrible. Large swaths are devastated, blasted out, and empty. But over all it's slowly coming back to life, and that's good to see.
I also saw my house for the first time on Wednesday. It's wretched. I had braced myself to be overwhelmed at the shock of seeing it firsthand, but that actually didn't happen. I had been warned in detail what to expect, and it was actually slightly better than I imagined. Despite everything, being there felt good.
I've been in New Orleans full time since Friday, staying with friends. It's a very strange place to be right now, a large American city with a sliver of its population, occupied by the National Guard. The flooded areas are uninhabited, although during the day there is scattered activity as residents and businesses begin cleaning up.
The areas that didn't flood are recovering more quickly, although there is still a very long way to go. People living there, not many people, but some. A handful of businesses have opened: a drugstore, a couple of restaurants. In practice, the bars are exempt from the curfew and are leading the way for economic recovery. The few that are open are packed every night until well into the evening.
My first few days were spent assessing the state of the house, making phone calls, tarping the roof, and just trying to get a handle on the situation. Now I've settled into the slow grind of picking through our stuff, seeing what can be saved and throwing away the rest. It's sad, filthy, lonely, awful work. I'll be glad when it's over, and the next step can begin.
There's plenty to more to report, but that's enough for the moment. I now have internet access and hope to post more regularly. Until we meet again...