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Gentilly, home to about 47,000 people before the storm and a thin fraction of that now, is not dead. Haltingly, in disconnected pockets, this eight-square-mile quadrant north of the historic districts that line the Mississippi River is limping back to life, thanks to the struggles of its most determined former residents.
But they have had to do so largely on their own, because help from government at any level has been minimal, in their accounts. In recent weeks, some residents have reported getting checks from the state’s Road Home rebuilding program, but four-fifths of applicants have not.
Each block still contains only a handful of occupied houses. But a beachhead has been established here, a residential area critical to this city’s survival and one that before the storm was dominated by black homeowners, professionals and multigenerational citizens of New Orleans.
A similar story is unfolding in two other once-flooded family-centered neighborhoods, neither of them flashy but both equally important to this city’s future: Broadmoor, in central New Orleans, and Lakeview, in the northwestern corner, show signs of life here and there along the wounded streets. Neighbors, encouraged by the earliest post-Katrina pioneers, are moving back in.