“Today’s celebration marks another milestone in the renewal and redevelopment of the historic Lower Ninth Ward,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said as he participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new store at 5000 N. Claiborne Ave. With its grand opening, CVS became the first major retailer to bring its business to the Lower Ninth Ward since Hurricane Katrina.
The Lower Ninth Ward was one of the neighborhoods most decimated by the hurricane almost 11 years ago and has been one of the slowest to return. As of August 2015, only 37 percent of households had returned, as opposed to nearly 90 percent in the rest of the city. Some streets are desolate, sometimes having a single home in a block.
CVS prides itself in being a part of the Lower Ninth Ward’s recovery efforts. When the hurricane struck in 2005, CVS donated over $1 million in cash and donations. Currently, CVS has a $15,000 grant to be donated to Baptist Community Health Services, a New Orleans nonprofit for chronic disease management.
This, among other recovery efforts is just a step down the long path to recovery.
Mayor Landrieu said that he and his administration have committed more than $500 million in recovery projects in the Lower Ninth Ward, including major road and infrastructure developments, along with new police and fire stations and a community center.
While the new CVS store is promising, the redevelopment of the Lower Ninth Ward since Katrina has not been without many challenges.
In 2007, actor Brad Pitt launched the Make It Right Foundation in order to build 150 houses in the Lower Ninth Ward for a total cost of $26.8 million. The state launched the Road Home program, which it turned out to be a major loss in the Lower Ninth Ward and other Black neighborhoods across the city where many homeowners were offered appraisal values for their loss–which was not insufficient funds to rebuild their houses.