Noah Adams Noah Adams, long-time co-host of NPR's All Things Considered, brings more than three decades of radio experience to his current job as a contributing correspondent for NPR's National Desk.
Plenty of Highlights in This Tape Collection
Prized Sculptures Survive Katrina, Stolen by Thieves
Court Orders Saddam to Be Hanged Within 30 Days
Fighting Hunger in Cincinnati
Tobacco Barns: Stately Relics of a Bygone Era
In Wheelchair, College Trumpeter Marches Along
'Bridge Day' Parachute Jump Marred by Tragedy
Dodging Horse Racing Injuries with Artificial 'Dirt'
Precisionist Nears a New Pasture
Blue Skies an Unforgettable Backdrop of Dark Day
I drove out Piety Street then switched over to Desire. It's now a familiar route, heading into the Ninth Ward. This is across the Industrial Canal from the Lower Ninth and some call this neighborhood the Upper. I crossed the streets named Industry, Abundance and Treasure, then turned on Clouet to find St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church. I first came here in 2004 for a story about an after school supper program – meals for children and their families prepared by students at Dillard University. That was a happy, satisfying story. Last October I came back, finding no one I knew. Only a few of the houses were sound enough to live in. Today, the crunch of dried light brown mud is gone from the streets and the grass. A few more houses have people. I met Jene Moore, a grandmother. She'd been away in Murray, Ky., and smiled when she talked about the folks there who brought a school bus to New Orleans. Jene and her family were the next in line at the convention center when the bus from Murray pulled up. Now she's back in a trailer, her collapsed house untouched. "No school," she said. "No store."
St. Claude Used Tires -- not a single place more valuable or as busy after Katrina. It's outside the business district by a few miles (on St. Claude Avenue). When the water went down after a few days, if you had a flat, Joe Peters became your best friend. And because of all the junk in the water after the storm, he had a lot of best friends. "Ambulances, Humvees, boat trailers… everybody who was in here was getting in trouble," Joe told me today. He was watching two of his men change tires for customers from a chair in the shade. I asked, "Did you have trouble with looters?" "No, everybody knows Joe. I've got a 12-gauge. I've got a big dog I tied up out front and I'd go to sleep inside." I asked him if he raised his prices a little during that time. "Stayed the same," he answered. "$8.00 to fix a tire. Same today. I don't want to get rich on poor people."
Imagine being able to sit at a laptop at a command post in New Orleans and zoom a video image in on the faces of the people stranded on the rooftops in the flood? Imagine seeing their expressions. And you can direct rescue units to the precise locations. This morning I talked by phone with Air Force Lt. Col. Greg Harbin back at the Pentagon about his mission a year ago here in New Orleans. He commands Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) units for the Air Force. They're basically small aircraft that are used for precise targeting (and sometimes bombing) and they have, in his term, superior “loiter time.” When Katrina hit, Harbin was sent to the Gulf Coast where he assembled a team. He brought the "Evolution" UAVs -- the smaller models made of Styrofoam construction with three and a half foot wingspans. When they arrived, the airspace of New Orleans was chaotic and the FAA decided the tiny planes shouldn’t go up so Harbin and his techs took the wings off, leaving the sensors intact. They duct-taped one to the bottom of a Blackhawk helicopter and put others on top of the Industrial Canal Bridge, the Hilton hotel and the Chase bank building, which, at 21 stories, is the tallest in town. They controlled the cameras with signals to their tiny motors. Soon, Harbin had 360-degree coverage. The team stayed for three weeks and helped rescue, by their count, 182 people...