Rebooting Food and Community in New Orleans After Katrina, Part Two

August 12, 2015
By: Richard McCarthy, National Geographic

After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans on August 29, 2005, many of the Crescent City Farmers Market team scattered. The community of farmers, fishers and shoppers we had built over a decade in our beloved city was gone.

My crew and I were allowed to recover some laptops we left behind ten days after the storm, but it was not a place we wanted to linger. The stench of diesel and decay coated the air. A once animated city was deserted of people. The only visible inhabitants in our neighborhood were the chickens, crowing and wandering into the streets without any care for cars. Storm debris was everywhere.

Indeed, when most residents were allowed to return to New Orleans October 1st, they returned to a stripped down city: dawn-to-dusk curfew, very little commerce, and no children. For the most part, schools did not reopen until January. (It was as if the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Banghad been contracted to keep the city free of children.)