Death knocked twice then climbed through the window. Its tongue began to wag like a snake dancing in the sea at night. A husky voice cracked into my mind and two words lodged in my ear...

New Orleans

New Orleans

Story by Andrew Diprose

Four years after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, i visited the still-reeling New Orleans, or NOLA as locals call it. The city was still working through the aftermath of the hurricane. The strength and love that the locals showed for one another and the fierce pride they have for their city gives New Orleans an amazing vibe. No matter how bad their circumstances, the people I met had a story and a smile for the stranger with the camera.

I bumped into the man in the image above sitting on the steps in front of his caravan. I was walking around the 9th ward, which was flooded and widely levelled by Katrina. The building behind the caravan was the local store, which he owned, ran and lived in. It was destroyed by the hurricane and with nowhere to go he setup the caravan to live in.

You can find really talented local musicians playing at venues along Frenchman Street. It’s also a hotspot for buskers playing in the street dancing and boozing it up with a “rum hurricane” in hand – a cocktail of at least four different spirits, cherries and juice.

9th Ward was one of the worst affected neighbourhoods in NOLA. The area was completely flooded and most residents lost their homes. The council marked any condemned buildings to be bulldozed with an X that seemed to spread like a virus.

We hung out with a local who took us down to Lake Pontchartrain, which is serious gator country. Every so often there were a bunch of small communities living on the river. Fisherman hunt for shellfish, turtles, fish, and gators. Homes go on the market for $20,000 and a slab for beer – it’s a serious lifestyle choice.

Lake Pontchartrain Swamp is thick, murky and all round fucking scary.

Residential home on the swamp. Next door, the neighbour had a plastic slide for the kids to slide into the murky water. The people on the swamps have such an isolated and extreme lifestyle. Alligator and rum are staples and are ingeniously created into all manner of food – alligator cheesecake was my favourite.

There are so many abandoned structures both destroyed by the hurricane or simply discarded. The hundreds of empty buildings created an eerie vibe in the deep south.

Treme was a really cool area to drive around. There was always music in the air and some street party going on somewhere. The community is an eclectic mix of cultures all centred in music and dancing.

Kid riding the streets of Treme.

Bourbon street is the local tourist destination. It’s where you can get blind drunk in the street, frequent a few titty bars and then end the night by stuffing your face with some sweet southern food, probably with some element of alligator involved.
 See more of Andrew’s work here.