To-Be-Filed Thursday–Gerry’s House from Sentinels of New Orleans

One of my big online projects these days is culling down my Dropbox account, particularly two huge files called “To Be Sorted1” and “To Be Sorted2.” In other words, they’re my online junk drawers.

But however much I love Dropbox, and I do, once I am gainfully unemployed about 30 days from now (yikes!), I no longer want to pay $75 a month for a business account and unlimited storage. So I’ve been going through my virtual junk drawers. I’ll share a few things with you as I find them.

Like this double in New Orleans’ Lakeview community, which is a place I rented when I first moved to NOLA, before we bought our house uptown. I was moving there from San Diego and rented it sight-unseen; it turned out to be a great half-double. This serves as the model for Gerry St. Simon’s house in the Sentinels series.

So, what’s a double and a half-double? It’s New Orleans-ese for a duplex, and one side of a duplex. My roommate and I lived in the larger unit on the left as you face the house. At the time I lived there, it was painted a darker brown color rather than taupe, and I don’t think the doors were black. I wish I had another photo of it. Oh, wait. This:


So, yeah, my half-double on Bellaire Drive in Lakeview just happened to be two blocks from the main levee breach that flooded NOLA after Hurricane Katrina. This was taken about a month after the storm. Some interesting observations. When I lived there, there were one-story houses on each side. Both were completely underwater and later torn down. There’s such a thick layer of sand and mud left in front that you can’t even see the driveways in the bottom photo. I can’t really tell the door color in the bottom photo because the doors were washed away in the flood, but since the balcony windows were white, the doors might have been white also. In the top photo, you can see that the huge oak trees around and behind the house are no longer there (sitting in saltwater for a month doesn’t agree with most trees), and the backyard (which you can’t see in the bottom photo but is clear in the top) leads up to the rebuilt 17th Street Canal Levee wall. The one that failed.

So when I was writing ROYAL STREET and wanted a Katrina-flooded house for Gerry, this was the natural place for me to go because I knew the neighborhood, knew the layout of the house, and figured that since the house survived, the upper floor wasn’t flooded so Gerry could have survived up there. The waterline would have been about to the midpoint of the balconies on “my” side of the house.

So that’s my “discovery” in my “To Be Filed” folder this week! I’m glad the house survived. All hail to 6660 Bellaire Drive! (Maybe that ‘666’ should have been a warning!)


5 thoughts on “To-Be-Filed Thursday–Gerry’s House from Sentinels of New Orleans

  1. Thanks for sharing. I think maybe we will see some neat stuff from your “To Be Sorted1” & “To Be Sorted2” files. I have a junk file called “Wisdom From” that has book quotes and a lot of cat pictures.

  2. Wow! That’s some before and after pictures. I can see how it could be inspiration for your books. I also have a file a famous people quotes. If I started with cat pictures, I would never leave the internet! Good luck paring down your files.

  3. This is going to be interesting watching you sort. I have a file titled things I Need to Keep. Haven’t looked in there for years. Probably don’t need to keep it…lol

  4. I know how traumatic it is to be in a flood. Our house was flooded when the dikes broke during Hurricane Agnes. It is amazing how much damage water can do. Thanks for sharing your pictures.