09-30-2023  7:17 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
Sean Cruz for The Skanner
Published: 24 October 2007

The ruins of the once prosperous Afro House Hair Clinic still stands among other shattered and boarded-up homes and businesses in New Orleans.

Two years after Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, the vast emptiness of the Crescent City shocks the senses.
The loneliness of its forgotten people, the stress of restarting lives is written on every face, and the truth is that we have mostly moved on to other things.
The loss of the Afro House Hair Clinic is emblematic of the loss of community that extends throughout the city, a typical scene, repeated thousands of times over, up to tens of stories in the sky.
On a warm sunny day, the parks are empty, a lone fisherman casts into Lake Pontchartrain, the few buses running are far from full.
Even on a shirtsleeves evening, the nightclubs and restaurants in the French Quarter are largely empty, no place for a waiter to try to make a living, not on tips. Bar tenders work alone.
There is no operating bakery downtown, no produce market, little fresh fruit, too few customers, too few visitors, to support employment over wide areas.
The Afro House Hair Clinic probably had all the customers it needed within an easy walk before Katrina, was a community in its own right, but that is all gone now, and this isn't even the 9th Ward or St. Bernard's Parish.
The entire neighborhood is devastated, vacant lots and smashed buildings line the streets, the community long served here a searing memory.
Seeing the 9th Ward is like taking a drive in the country, broad green fields shining in the sun where community once lived, isolated houses standing here and there, street signs bent over, rooftops draped with dead trees.
Traveling through New Orleans, amid the tragic beauty of the city, one asks repeatedly, in wonder, in awe, "Where are all the people?"
We are the people, comes the silent answer.

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