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Elysian Fields Avenue in New Orleans connects the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain. It crosses from high ground to low, passing through wealthy neighborhoods and low-income communities. Some sections flooded after Hurricane Katrina, others didn’t.
You can pretty much tell the story of the city’s post-Katrina recovery just by dropping in on businesses along that street. So that’s what we did. We zoomed in on one section of Elysian Fields — an industrial stretch that took many years to come back. And we talked to the business owners responsible for the rebirth.
First up, Floyd Simeon, a contractor who owns Crescent City Builders. We met him at his new warehouse where he rents studio space to craftsmen. He told us what it was like rebuilding New Orleans right after the storm.
Floyd Simeon, owner of Crescent City Builders. (Caitlin Esch/Marketplace)
Simeon’s neighbor, restaurant owner Sammy Schloegel, is a lifelong New Orleanian. He was one of the first to rebuild his business, though Schloegel says he had to start “from scratch.” He says Sammy’s Food Service & Deli serves up some of the best po’ boys in the city.
Sammy Schloegel, owner of Sammy’s Food Service & Deli. (Caitlin Esch/Marketplace)
Just down the street, William Watts owns NOLA Paint & Supplies. Watts is a relative newcomer to the area — he opened his shop in 2011 after closing another business in Memphis. He says owning a paint store in New Orleans is surprisingly interesting.
Will Watts owns NOLA Paint & Supplies. (Caitlin Esch/Marketplace)