My best friend from college went to law school at Tulane, and moved back to New Orleans about three months ago. What follows is her tale from her recent trip back to the city, reprinted with permission. Gready is her husband, also a lawyer.

We went to New Orleans over the weekend, Gready went Saturday and I went Sunday. It was a bit disheartening, though Gready was less subdued than I. The areas that were flooded reek, sweeter and nastier than manure, and the smell is everywhere, in whole neighborhoods. My house had a small hole in a window and that was it; it smells a little like rotten meat, because Gready emptied out our refrigerator. Now we have been told by our landlady to just duct tape it shut and put it on the porch. Gready is going back Saturday to do that, and to drive my car out, it seems to have survived on the street in front of the house without looting, gas siphoning or flood or wind damage. It was odd to be in my house, it is sitting there just like we left it, in this state of suspended animation just waiting for us to come home. Also, it’s weird to have house and cars make it through the storm just fine, when so many others – the majority, really – have lost everything. We stopped by my boss’ house in Metairie and it was completely ruined. It was still all wet three weeks later, and the puddles on the floor were pink. It reeked, and everything we took out of it reeked. The whole street smelled, I would never want to relocate there, and it ‘s hard to imagine how it could be restored. His two cars that were in the driveway looked fine, but were totaled b/c the water got into the floorboards where the computer is, and so the cars were a total loss.

When we drove into town, we were stopped at a checkpoint and had to show ID. We were the only civilian car we saw uptown; we saw a lot of Guard and a lot of Entergy trucks (I waved to them) and a lot of A team looking private security types with a ridiculous amount of guns and machine guns. There were helicopters everywhere, but otherwise it was VERY quiet. The steeple fell off of Rayne Methodist where Cy goes to school. We saw 5 or 6 people with cameras taking pictures of destruction; they were insurance adjustors. The street car tracks were all torn up by heavy equipment on Carrollton and everywhere there were big oak trees down. The quarter was full of people, but they didn’t look like locals, and I saw a swarm of CDC t-shirted people walk into the Superdome.

It was sobering to see, really, I keep saying that it’s like watching your best friend get cancer. the city is completely invaded by the feds and Bechtel and Kellogg Root are everywhere downtown with work crews that are obviously from Texas. At our bulding we got a lecture about all the harmful bacteria and toxins still inside and then we climbed 15 flights to find our office completely intact. My building said they will be open Oct. 3, and they got power today we heard. No wonder the mayor wants us to come back right away, it’s horrible to be in New Orleans, and see it as a ghost town. Nothing is open, there is no place to wash your hands or go to the bathroom b/c there is no bathable water, and no place to buy gas. We packed a bag w/food and wipes and water and got gas outside of town.

I’ve called clients all day today, and have gotten updated information, they are scattered from California to Michigan and have crazy stories to tell about getting out, wading, swimming, catching a bus to the Astrodome and trying to find family…. Half are already looking for permanent homes in their evac’d state, and all that I have talked to today have lost their home in New Orleans to the flood. One told me that he is afraid to come back, and predicted Rita would hit the city. I hope not, though it might prevent Gready from being able to re-enter this weekend.

Work is picking up, we got computers today and are hoping for a phone line this week,and then we’ll run an ad and open this office! We should be able to forward our NO number here and reconnect with our clients that way, unless the Bell South substation that serves our exchange was destroyed; we are waiting to find that out. I hope you all are well, and miss you all! Love, W