As Hurricane Gustav approaches New Orleans three years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the region, the nation waits in apprehension to see what the extent of the damage will be. So many lives were lost and families displaced in Katrina that even major damage to historic buildings received little media attention. Government funding has prioritized repairing infrastructure and housing over historic sites. At present, damaged historic sites languish, remaining vulnerable to demolition or destruction in a storm such as Hurricane Gustav.
This year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation added Charity Hospital in New Orleans to its 11 Most Endangered list. Charity Hospital flooded and suffered damage to its mechanical and electrical systems in Hurricane Katrina. Although the water was pumped out and electrical systems restored, the Louisiana State University Medical System deemed the building unsafe for use. Accordingly, the art deco monument was boarded up and abandoned and, unless preservation action is taken, it may deteriorate beyond repair.
Further, many homes in historic neighborhoods still await repair.
Many preservation initiatives have been undertaken in the long wake of Katrina by such organizations as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, and the Foundation for Historical Louisiana. Unfortunately, the damage caused by the storm overwhelmed both public and private efforts.
The Director of the New Orleans field office Walter Gallas states in his blog that he will conference with the National Trust headquarters on Tuesday afternoon after Hurricane Gustav clears through.