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We stood in an empty street among an expanse of vacant apartments in New Orleans, listening to the stillness that surrounded us. The Desire neighborhood in the 9th Ward was almost completely obliterated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. From some vantage points it was possible to have a 360° view of absolute vacancy. A shiny barbed wire fence stretched along the blight, but the gates were left swinging in the cold January breeze.
My personal preference on photographic subject matter does not normally encompass these kinds of scenes, but there was something intriguing about the rows of multicolored apartments. Perhaps it was the feeling of being in a lost city, the sheer repetition of architecture, or the minimalism that I sometimes enjoy in places like dead malls.
We wandered in and out of the structures, which were still quite solid. The first floors were piled high with ruined furniture, children's toys, and whatever else the flood water brought in. The fetid black water, containing sewage and other toxins, left stains along the walls as it slowly receded.
Kitchen cabinets swelled with spoiled food products; luckily the remnants consisted mostly of packaging, as most of the food was decomposed long ago.
The upper floors were not decayed, but in complete disarray - either from residents leaving in a hurry or by scavengers looking for valuable items. They appeared either ransacked or just messy if taken out of context of the area.
Many of the surrounding one-family homes were abandoned or completely gone, leaving behind squares of brown lawns or gaping holes where foundations used to be.
This interactive panorama gives a view of the block all at once:
Progress marched on a few streets over however, as new homes bloomed among green rectangles of sprouting lawns and freshly paved roads. It seemed strange to me that none were raised higher than their predecessors though...
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