NEWORLEANS-- New Orleans East homeowners and businesses were hard hit nine years ago. Today, there is progress but still much to be done.
There's a new hospital, a new library, a new school and new fitness center each under construction. And there's a big new Walmart. They are the signs of progress in New Orleans East since Hurricane Katrina. But scars still remain. Blighted property and tall weeds sit next to a well manicured apartment complex.
One couple who lives in the complex, walks along the service road to get groceries. They wish they had sidewalks, and cut grass on their path.
'I walked in the street right here because I don't know if a snake or something might come out of these grass,' said Troy Carter who moved back to the area a year ago.
Along with better public transportation, he wants a job. He has worked in construction and is also a musician. So does another New Orleans East native. Adrienne Harris works at MD Anderson in Houston with three other New Orleans Katrina transplants, and is willing to take a pay cut to come home.
'I've been wanting to come back home but I haven't been able to find work here, so I have to stay there until I can find something. But I am a season ticket holder for the Saints so I am home for every game. Every game!' said Harris. She still owns a home in New Orleans East, but rents it out.
Councilman James Gray says more retail and less blight are his constituents biggest complaints. But he says change is coming.
'We think we're going to have some progress in retail in the east, substantial progress in retail over the next 6 months,' said Gray.
When businesses open, not only does that bring jobs, but it also means that the people who live in the area, spend their money there. That means more tax dollars for the parish for things like fixing streets.
Gray says negotiations for Six Flags are ongoing, but there's no viable financial offer yet. And he says city money is planned for grass cutting, but that is only a temporary fix.
'The hard truth is government doesn't cut private grass. The way you ultimately take care of blight is you get enough businesses, enough families into things so they're cutting their own grass,' said Gray.
Councilman Gray says much of the electrical infrastructure had to be rebuilt after Katrina and some is still not complete. That is why some lights are still out.