I’m going to go off topic a bit here and talk a minute about my recent trip to New Orleans and some of the reflections I have about the state of Louisiana real estate. I had to go out of town about a week to take care of family business. For part of the time, I was in Houma, Louisiana – about 40 mintues directly south of New Orleans. Despite what most people think, Houma and the southern parishes faired extremely well during Katrina – suffering mostly wind damage. Of course the wind and rain wasn’t the big issue – the big issues were the levies holding back Lake Pontchartrain that flooded parts of New Orleans.
At first glance, New Orleans looks fairly well recovered – Cafe Du Monde is still selling beignets and coffe, Bourbon Street still offers beer for breakfast, the jazz is still hot and so is the Gumbo. But the French Quarter where tourists flock didn’t bear the full brunt of the flooding.
As you travel the Louisiana expressways north west and then north east of New Orleans towards Slidell, the true extent of the damage still remaining to the area becomes evident. Whole subdivisions, condo buildings and appartment buildings sit vacant – some with roofs still torn off. Strip malls and Wall-marts sit boarded up and empty. The broken Six Flags New Orleans paints an eerie backdrop to all of the devastation. Things are not back to normal in New Orleans – far from it. The extent of the damage you can see just from the expressway is a clear indication of the massive damage still remaining but not seen from the expressway.
As most of the company begins to recover from the real estate slowdown of 2006, seeing the devastation that still exists in New Orleans puts things into sharp perspective. Even though things have been tough for some of us in 2006, we still have our homes and lives – more than some residents of New Orleans have.