In the News

Exhibit marks Hurricane Katrina London Avenue Canal failures


 By Doug MacCash, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune 


An outdoor exhibition marking the 10th anniversary of the flooding caused by failures of the London Avenue Canal opened Saturday morning (July 11) near 5000 Warrington Drive in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans.

Sandy Rosenthal, founder of Levees.org, a post-Katrina organization devoted to disseminating information about the levee failures, led the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Explaining the need for the exhibit, she said that visitors arriving at Armstrong International Airport crave a location to acquaint themselves with the tragedies of 2005. The London Avenue Canal Exhibit and Garden will provide a destination. In her remarks, Rosenthal emphasized her position that the flooding was caused by engineering flaws, not natural disaster.

New Orleans Mission begins restoration project


New Orleans Mission Long in need of repair, the century-old building in Central City that houses the New Orleans Mission where more than 200 members of the homeless community are cared for daily, is getting a facelift. Repairs expected to total $6 million are now underway. ( ) By Marilyn Stewart 
on July 12, 2015 at 10:35 AM

Long in need of repair, the century-old building in Central City that houses the New Orleans Mission where more than 200 members of the homeless community are cared for daily, is getting a facelift. Repairs expected to total $6 million are now underway.

Built in the early 1900s, the building is the former home of the A. Levitan Furniture Store. As preparations were made to remove the exterior façade, some original windows, complete with furniture ads, were found intact.

Restoration will return the building to its 1920s look. 

Urban forest revitalizes overgrown, neglected lot in New Orleans East


Urban Forest
Lawrence and Barbara Banks stand in front of the Urban Forest, 216 trees that have been built on a lot in New Orleans East that was neglected after Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Banks dreamt up the project and the New Orleans Redevelopment Agency helped make it a reality. (Photo by Shelby Hartman, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
By Shelby Hartman, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune 
on June 30, 2015 at 2:41 PM, updated June 30, 2015 at 3:14 PM

A stroll down Chantilly Drive in New Orleans East is like walking onto the film set of a 1960s suburban family sitcom. One-story brick homes with trim lawns and white mailboxes make it easy to forget the neighborhood was all but destroyed in the flooding after Hurricane Katrina.

Soon, the end of the block will have something more atypical: a canopy of red, gold and orange leaves inspired by the Northeastern fall.

With neighbors’ help, row of empty lots becomes a small, tidy woods

Katy Reckdahl|Special to the Advocate 

July 1, 2015


Ten years ago, a family headed by two doctors owned a row of three houses along a strip of Chantilly Drive in New Orleans East.

The homes were bordered by a canopy of trees and a neat brick wall with lights on the top. Often, the air would be filled with the sounds of neighbors laughing and splashing in a swimming pool behind the fence.

But the houses and the wall were torn down after the flood that followed Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The trees died after sitting in the salt water that covered this part of eastern New Orleans for weeks after the storm.

So when Lawrence and Barbara Banks returned from Katrina exile and looked out their front window, they saw nothing but devastation. The lots were empty and quiet. Often, the foliage was wild, Barbara Banks, 65, recalled.

“After Katrina, it was nothing but a big sea of grass and weeds,” she said. “And every day, I’d walk outside and think of what used to be there.”


When Lawrence Banks walked out of his New Orleans East home, he could barely stand the sight across the street – five empty Hurricane Katrina overgrown lots, with weeds, rodents and garbage.

"It offered me just a depressing view of my neighborhood," he said. "I believed there could be something better."

So three years ago he started writing letters to NORA, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, which owned the properties. He hoped to gain control, for he had a vision of an urban forest.

"Of some nice trees, trees that would change colors in the fall."

Banks and his wife didn't qualify through any programs to buy the properties, but NORA took his idea and ran with it, and today his urban forest now sits along Chantilly Drive.

Officially it's the NORA Green Project. There are 216 trees, eight different species and an in-ground irrigation system where each tree has its own supply, a limestone pathway, benches and a wooden fence.


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