Built during the Jim Crow era of racial segregation in Louisiana, for nearly five consecutive decades Pontchartrain Park was considered a safe haven for working-class and upper-income blacks in New Orleans. With more than 1,000 modest ranch homes, wide curving streets and 200 acres of green space, this “mocha Mayberry,” of sorts, built around a golf course included a Little League ballpark, tennis courts and two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Everything changed on August 29, 2005, when Hurricane Katrina overpowered the levees that were supposed to protect Pontchartrain Park. This community, one of the oldest suburban African-American communities in the country, was submerged under six, eight and, in some parts, as much as 14 feet of water. Everyone lost everything. As the fifth anniversary of the Katrina catastrophe approaches, “The Park” is still not close to where it was before the flood.