The Lower9

A Film by Matthew Hashiguchi

A Story of Home

Prior to Hurricane Katrina
14,000 – 18,000 residents
5,600 homes
Five schools, parks, medical facilities and businesses.

Since Katrina
Over 10,000 residents displaced
2,842 residents have returned
Less than 20% of its former residents have returned.
One school is operational.
Main hospital is non-functional.
2 of 5 parks are usable
Over 3,561 of the original 5,300 homes are destroyed, abandoned or non-existent.

Overview: Bordering the Mississippi River to the south and the Industrial Canal to the west, the family centered community of the Lower Ninth Ward was one of the most devastated areas of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Entrance into the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood was restricted from August 2005 to May 2006. Nine months after Hurricane Katrina, residents were finally allowed back into the area to discover what was left of their homes and possessions. In May, as residents returned to their destroyed lots they quickly realized they had two options, rebuild or move away.

Both options seemed impossible. Residents could not afford to rebuild their homes, many of which were owned and inherited from past generations. At nearly 70 percent, the neighborhood had one of the highest rates of African-American homeownership in the United States and nearly 54 percent of its residents had lived there for over 25 years.

The Lower Ninth Ward was an irreplaceable community connected through its relationships and daily interactions with one another. Residents bought their food from the same corner stores. Porches were meeting places to talk, laugh or listen. If a child misbehaved down the street, news of their actions made it home before they did.

“Our neighbors were our relatives,” said Linda Jackson of the Lower Ninth Ward Homeowners Association. “Everybody knew everybody.”

Before the disaster of Hurricane Katrina, life in the Lower Ninth Ward was by no means perfect. Like in any community, there were struggles, obstacles and problems. But the intense desire of its current residents to remain in the Lower Ninth Ward reveals a unique and strong bond to the neighborhood that needs to be expressed.