Almost two years ago, we posted an article about the state of repairs to NOLA cemeteries post-Katrina. Some cemeteries, like Metairie, seemed to weather the storm just fine while other cemeteries in the outlying poorer areas weren’t so lucky.
Five years after Katrina, news crews have returned to document the city’s slow but inevitable rise back to its feet. While the focus is rightfully on human survival and individual initiative over government red tape (also known as SBA disaster recovery loans) there are also cemetery volunteer efforts that shouldn’t be forgotten—specifically from Save Our Cemeteries.
Save Our Cemeteries (SOC) is a New Orleans based organization dedicated to preserving and restoring these Louisiana historic sites. After Katrina hit, they posted a website updating the public on which cemeteries were being cleared and which sites still needed help. At this time, they continue to offer tours, lectures, and volunteer cleanup programs. Some of their previous efforts included cleaning up this long-neglected potters field.
SOC’s fundraisers are also popular. How about the annual 5K Run Through History? There are few chances to race through a cemetery for a good cause and this is one of them. Those seeking something less sweaty can indulge in the All Saints Soiree—A Masked Ball and Silent Auction. All proceeds will go toward historic cemetery restoration efforts.
So, does this mean that in the past five years things are finally returning to normal in this city? Well, maybe not completely, but each passing day seems to bring yet one more positive confirmation that NOLA is alive and well.
Just as it was before Katrina, certain cemeteries were deemed off-limits because of crime. This has not changed. Recently, one bemused graveyard rabbit posted a reminder on his blog that tourists should not randomly wander in St. Louis 2 unless they want to part with their wallets and cameras.
Corruption, beginning at $350 a pop, also seems to be roaring back in true Mardi Gras style. Last weekend The Times-Picayune reported that city employee Alma Gardner is accused of:
“Mishandling payments and improperly hiring at least one man, purporting to be her grandson, to dig graves in three publicly owned burial grounds. According to a the city’s municipal code, city employees cannot be involved in contracting or brokering gravedigging services, as [she] is accused of doing. The new testimonies suggest that Gardner, who has served as Interim superintendent of cemeteries since shortly after Hurricane Katrina, may have been a habitual offender.”
Laissez les bon temps roulez (again).