For more than 30 years, Sarah and her daugher Annette Rigaud owned one of the most popular eateries on Grand Isle, LA. Sarah’s Restaurant is a cozy place filled with mementoes of sun-splashed beach vacations and fishing trips. It was a prosperous business, part of a proud family lineage that dates back to the colonial days of the 1700s here. The Rigauds have endured hurricanes, droughts, disease outbreaks and pirates that once roamed these marsh-filled ocean bayous.

Then the BP oil disaster washed ashore last summer.

Drive down this short stretch of St. Bernard Avenue, and you will see signs of a struggling neighborhood in despair. Bars, blighted homes, metal-grated storefronts, and the still-shuttered Circle Food Store tell the story of this strip.  Here in New Orleans’ 7th ward, hope and sustenance have been drained by Katrina’s floodwaters, and by decades of racism’s insidious trend of sapping vital resources from a community.

Last week, Hurricane Katrina survivors packed two Greater New Orleans churches and voiced some of the frustration, anger, and hurt that they’ve been nursing over the “Road Home” recovery program.  The public meetings, in St. Bernard parish and New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, were held to inform residents about inequities and corruption in the housing program.

After Hurricane Gustav in 2008, north Baton Rouge residents were left without electricity for nearly two weeks. Across the street at ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge refinery, the second largest refinery in the country, workers were dealing with their own mess.


Subscribe to RSS - Louisiana