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Some New Orleans’ natives skip the party

NBC's Martin Savidge meets New Orleans residents who skipped Mardi Gras this year, many for the first time in their lives.

There were parades all over New Orleans on Fat Tuesday, at least 10 of them.

From her dining room chair at the side of the road, 46-year-old Maylene Arbuthnot had a great view, as a crew of workers gutted her home of 19 years.

"It's heartbreaking," she says. "It's really heartbreaking."

This isn't Bourbon Street, it's Lamanche Street in the Ninth Ward.

Arbuthnot has never missed a Mardi Gras in her life, but today she couldn't bring herself to go. Not when there's so much to do.

"It's just Mardi Gras," she says. "Not for me, today, that's all. It's something that has to be done."

Missing Mardi Gras is also a first for Charles Mowrey.

"Out here we don't have money to go to Mardi Gras really," he says.

"Out here" is New Orleans East. Instead of catching beads, Mowrey was watching his home, living out of a trailer in a neighborhood where little has changed in half a year. He doubts his area will see any benefit from the party downtown.

"We won't see a penny of it," says Mowrey. "It won't benefit us none."

It's not that people we talked to were opposed to Mardi Gras or having fun. It's just from where they sit and what they see, they don't feel like celebrating.

"No, it's not a happy time, for me," says New Orleans resident Roger Harris. "It's not a happy time."

Harris is a retired New Orleans police officer. He wishes some of the tourists on Canal Street would come see his home. He's frustrated that his FEMA trailer of five months still has no power.

"It's just too much for me to bear right now," he says. "Just a little too much for me bear."

Back in the Ninth Ward, Maylene Arbuthnot still sits by the side of the road. She's got a long way to go, but count her in for next Mardi Gras.

"I'll be back," she says. "I will be back."