Inquisitive Northerner

doniki(z5/6 NE Ohio)June 26, 2006

Hi everyone... I just wanted to know how your gardens are fairing since Katrina. I live in Ohio, but I have a place in Key Biscayne, FL and remember the damage that Andrew did in 1992. I recall a lot of damage was not just from the wind, that blew over all but 8 pines in Bill Boggs State Park... but also from the salt water that came in during the storm surge... And I know that on Key Biscayne the water receded within the week, while you all were left under water (especially in N.O) for weeks... From my own experience, I recall that the palms actually faired the best, some only tilting slightly after 150mph+ sustained winds... So, to my question: What actually survived and what didn't??? What was able to withstand being underwater for such a long duration of time... Palms??? Live Oaks?? Southern Magnolia??? crape Myrtles??? Camellias/Azaleas???... How are your gardens progressing??? Are things recovering fairly quickly for you all??? I've seen pics of the NO Botanical Gardens and was just in shock at the damage... Are people repalanting and if so are any changes being made to the landscape material that is being chosen? I hope no one takes offense to my post, I'm just very inquisitive and would like to know how things are recooperating in comparison to after Andrew... thanks and God bless you all... Donny

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lisa455(z9 LA)

Since I live about 60 miles from New Orleans and grew up in New Orleans and was fortunate to have no damage, I will answer your question. I have a sense of what is going on in New Orleans as my entire family and most of my friends still lived there before the hurricane. The devastation and impact on the city from Katrina is almost incomprehensible. Today, there are areas of the city where virtually no one is living, there are no businesses open, homes are abandoned and almost nothing is alive. My brother and grandmother lived near the breach of the Seventeenth Street Canal. My brother had ten feet of water in his house and my grandmother had four feet. Other than an occasional live oak, no other plants survived. The water was polluted with oil, gas and chemicals, not just rain water or salt water. A large number of people who are living on their properties are living in FEMA trailers. I would say that the areas with less than three feet of flooding are coming back fairly well, but people are still tied up trying to get their homes habitable. Planting plants is years away for many and there are many many homes for sale. New Orleans lost at least 10,000 medical professionals after the hurricane. Half of the people I know lost their jobs after the hurricane. Luckily, many have found work. About 1/3 of my friends picked up and moved because their jobs got relocated or they became unemployed and found work in other cities. The French Quarter did not flood and the west bank of New Orleans had minimal flooding as did most parts of Jefferson parish. I would suspect that when people finish rebuilding they will not change the plants they plant because they flooded because the levees constructed by the federal government were poorly constructed and designed and poorly maintained by the locals in charge of this. The majority of the people in Jefferson Parish flooded because the parish president evacuated the pump workers and there was no one to work the pumps. If you are interested, check out, the Times Picayune's website. City park is replanting and has a wish list for their botanical gardens - The Audubon Zoo, which had beautiful gardens before the hurricane, has reopened and the Aquarium has reopened due to the generosity of many people. Thank you for your interest. Take care!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 9:37PM
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greenelbows1(z9--so LA)

There were pictures in the paper just today (Lafayette Daily Advertiser) of damage from the 'forgotten hurricane', Rita, which devastated the gulf coast from New Orleans to Houston. Lots of farmers south of us were put out of business, and the picture that stays in my mind from today's paper is one of dead trees from the salt intrusion. Unless we get lots of rain the soil will stay too salty. Various problems in various places! Thank you for your interest. We weren't damaged here, but certainly know many people who were, and the waiting time for re-building is amazing. Friends south of us have to raise their home, and figure they'll be lucky to have it done in time to have the house in shape for Christmas.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 12:08AM
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doniki(z5/6 NE Ohio)

Hi... Thank you for responding... So basically it sounds like you all are starting from scratch...??? In many respects, It doesn't seem like things are progressing as well in N.O. and along the Gulf as they did in the Miami area in '92. From what I recall, within 6mo to a year of Andrew, much of the area was totally replanted,especially with those plants that came through the storm with the least amount of damage. Of course nothing in Miami really sat under water for a long duration of time, as was the case in N.O. I watched CNN during the entire ordeal and recall reports of the flood water being contaminated... So, naturally wouldn't that sink into the soil and if so, is it actually safe to plant ANYTHING in New Orleans... I noticed that the Bot. Gardens had replanted quite a bit last winter... I understand that life has to go on, but was it really wise to plant things in contaminated soil??? I don't recall where I saw these pictures at on the web, but they showed a large row of Magnolia grand. completely browned out from sitting in the water as well as row after row of boxwoods and mature camellias and azaleas, which had also sat in the water and were dead... Really, my heart goes out to you all because I know how much time and effort goes into planning and caring for your gardens and to have that destroyed can not be an easy thing.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 9:32AM
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I have not heard of any irrepairable damage to the soil. We are in the middle of a drought and without the rain the salt and other contaminates will not be washed out of the soil.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 1:59PM
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I lost all in Katrina in St Bernard Parish. I now live in north Mississippi. It was heartbreaking to lose home, possessions, pictures, family, friends, jobs, schools, and gardens. I have not been back very recently, but after Katrina everything appeared dead. There were no birds or other wildlife to be seen, except flies in the trashed homes. My gardens and trees were all dead (crapes, camellias, elm, pear, lemon), except the chinese tallow tree survived. We had about 11 ft or more water that did not recede right away. I have returned many times and my brother and mom were there recently and they reported weeds 9 ft tall that look like small trees. So it will be a HUGE challenge getting it all back. Folks are focused on home rebuilding and many have fema trailers on their lawns. Gardening has helped heal me somewhat here in the "North" but I will always miss the coast. Thanks for asking and thinking of us. Nothing there is even close to being back to normal. It won't be for a very long time - or will it ever be again?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 12:23AM
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greenelbows1(z9--so LA)

About re-planting in contaminated soil--I wouldn't think it would be a good idea to plant vegetables you wanted to eat, but one of the better ways to rebuild and decontaminate soil is to plant in it. If they will grow, they will help. Actually, a lot of us were lucky enough to have fairly minimal damage. Some trees down, roof damage, but in this town (Lafayette) I don't know of anyone with anything really serious. Not very far south it was a whole different story. Whole towns gone, and many may not be back at all.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 11:30PM
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