Levees.org nonprofit plans to recreate the inside of flooded Gentilly home
Sandy Rosenthal, founder of Levees.org, and residents of the neighborhood recalled seeing frequent passengers of tour buses in Gentilly pouring out of their seats towards the flooded home at 4918 Warrington Drive. Arriving at a key levee breach site from Hurricane Katrina, tourists would head to both the flooded home and the new memorial garden and levee exhibit created by Levees.org on 5000 Warrington Drive.
The organization has been involved with these sites surrounded by empty lots since the storm, so people have a place where they can come and try to understand why and how the city of New Orleans flooded in 2005.
A press conference was held Monday (Aug. 8) at the flooded home that Rosenthal purchased in April 2016, in order to gift to Levees.org. The homeowner before the storm, Alonzo Dawson, was not able to come back and repair the home. Several neighbors in the area had left for good after the storm, leaving only a few residents on the block of the potential museum home that attended the presentation.
“America as we know it took a different path, directly to the levee breach event, so it is appropriate and it is necessary that we recognize that moment in some significant way,” Rosenthal said.
Rosenthal’s meeting before the City Planning Commission will be on Tuesday, August 9 at 1:30 p.m. to seek approval for Levees.org to turn the flooded home into a historical monument as a museum. Rosenthal said the house serves as a statue right now.
“We’re going to harness the creativity of artists and craftsman, and they will recreate a replica of a flooded living room,” Rosenthal said.
She described the museum as only covering the living room for now, but she said it will include mud-covered surfaces, toppled furniture, and mold growing up the walls. The exhibit is planned to be visible from the windows outside.
Rosenthal was joined Councilmember Jared Brossett and Dillard University Director of Community Relations Nick Harris in her presentation.
“I’m very exciting about having this monument as a part of our district and part of New Orleans to show the world,” Harris said.
He said as a representative of Dillard University, this monument only reminds us of the importance to rebuild our entire community, as well as the importance of valuing what people, students, and tourists have to see when they are coming back to the city.
Brossett thanked Rosenthal for her leadership and says that today is a day everyone can be proud of.
“We remember; we reflect on those dark days of Hurricane Katrina, August in 2005,” Brossett said. “But we also today can celebrate the people of our great city, the people of Gentilly, and the resiliency and the resolve to band together.”
Resident Kenneth Evans said the interest from the public in this property has already been there. People make a beeline to the home from the memorial garden and levee exhibit, according to Evans.
“We don’t want to forget what happened, and that’s a testament to what happened.,” Evans said.
Evans described him and his few neighbors after the storm wishing for people to come back and for something to be done after the devastation in the neighborhood.
“It’s a family oriented neighborhood. Everybody knew everybody.”
Rosenthal said we can not squander this opportunity to preserve a home a “stone’s throw” away from a levee breach site during Hurricane Katrina. She said the ribbon cutting ceremony for the project is scheduled for the close of Hurricane season.