New Orleans

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A few weeks ago, I ate three pieces of cake on a single day. All in the name of research, of course.

There are a lot of stories to tell about New Orleans.

There are uplifting stories about new houses, new shops and gigantic drainage projects. There are melancholy stories about everything residents lost in Hurricane Katrina, about all that can never be recovered. There are stories about all that remains to be done, 10 years after the hurricane and the levee failures.

And, throughout it all, there are love stories.

Want to hear one?

'It Was Still Mardi Gras'

This is the long story of a short street: Schnell Drive, two blocks of brick homes in Arabi, La., just east of New Orleans in St. Bernard Parish.

When we first visited in the fall of 2005, Donald and Colleen Bordelon were often the only two people on Schnell Drive. They had stayed in their home through the storm and the flood, and through the weeks after when the first floor was still filled with water.

Angela Chalk lives right in the middle of New Orleans, in the 7th Ward. Her house withstood Hurricane Katrina's pounding winds, but not the flood that followed when the federal levee system failed.

"I had 6 feet of water," she says, pointing to a watermark on her wall.

And she wasn't alone. About 80 percent of the city's homes were inundated with floodwater. It was weeks before the water receded and Chalk was able to return home.

When she did, what she found was a crusty brown mess.