Video: Uncertainty on Filmore Avenue

By Martin Savidge Correspondent
NBC News
updated 12/29/2006 4:25:20 PM ET 2006-12-29T21:25:20

Nightly News has been steadily covering the “Long Road Back” from Katrina. And now, we give that road a name: Filmore Avenue. It is one street that is central to New Orleans, and we will be checking on the street and its residents from time to time.

Filmore Avenue is New Orleans: It has rich and poor, black and white. And after Katrina, it flooded to the roofs.

Life here, like New Orleans, is uncertain.

Yola Fortin steps inside her home for only the second time since the storm. It’s a time capsule.

“I‘m 73 years old. At my age, I can’t start all over again. I can’t,” says Fortin. These days, that’s the only thing Fortin is sure of.

Two blocks away the Bells are leaving. After visiting their home, they are returning to family in Florida.

“There is nothing left,” one of them says.

A neighbor, Lott, is ready to stay. Another neighbor, Blanche isn’t — not when she doesn’t recognize the street she’s lived on for 33 years.

“It’s a mess,” she says. “If you look around, how many people do you see?”

Filmore is a ghost town.

The street links the middle-class, racially mixed neighborhood of Gentilly with the whiter and wealthier Lakeview area.

Nick Kleamenakis moved to Lakeview a year ago but forgot one thing — flood insurance.

“Do I have any money to fix the house? Not really. That’s why I am doing most of the work myself,” says Kleamenakis. At 78, it’s not what he envisioned.

At the West end of Filmore, attorney Gary Pendergast finally gets his FEMA trailer. His half million dollar home sits in ruins like every other house on the street.

“It has been a great equalizer,” says Pendergast. “It’s opened my eyes at 53 years of age, to what life is really like sometimes.”

The struggle on Filmore Avenue is New Orleans’ struggle, a long-term battle for survival fought house to house.

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