New Orleans, LA – French Quarter ghosts after Katrina

Pat O'Brien's in January 2006
Pat O’Brien’s in January 2006 – multiple orbs

My report from the French Quarter- January 2006

Ghosts have always been at home in New Orleans’ French Quarter. However, since Hurricane Katrina in mid-2005, hauntings have increased dramatically, though the French Quarter was barely touched by Katrina.

Despite the devastation in surrounding areas, the Quarter is an oasis. There weren’t as many tourists in January 2006 — largely because hotel rooms were being used by insurance adjustors, people associated with FEMA, and so on. However, the Quarter was just as welcoming as ever, and at least 80% of businesses reopened months ago. Day or night, it’s easy to forget that Katrina ever happened… except for the renewed paranormal energy in the French Quarter.

ORBS, ORBS… EVERYWHERE

In the past, I thought it was difficult to distinguish real orbs from those caused by New Orleans’ naturally high humidity, especially in the summer. Generally, I attributed most orbs to NOLA’s climate.

As of early 2006, I’m not sure what to think about the hundreds of orbs in French Quarter photos. The weather doesn’t explain them, even to the most hardened skeptic.

Tip: It’s still vital to take two photos in a row, at each site. Try not to move at all, even to breathe. (If you’re using a traditional-style camera and it’s near your face, it’s especially important not to exhale. That releases humidity by the lens.)

  • If the orbs are from normal causes, orbs will appear in both photos, usually in the same locations, and be fairly similar in size, shape, color, and density.
  • If the orbs are paranormal, you may see orbs in one photo but not in the other one. The photos will be dramatically different.

PAT O’BRIEN’S

Above, my photo of Pat O’Brien’s shows many orbs.

Before Katrina, we routinely saw two or three orbs in a “good” photo.

  • Pat O’Brien’s is known for a haunted ladies’ room, an “eerie feeling” on the third floor, and unearthly footsteps wandering around the attic.
  • A happy, inebriated visitor–dressed in slightly old-fashioned clothing–appears and disappears just outside the front door of this popular bar. You won’t realize that it’s a ghost until it vanishes.

This is one of many haunted sites that is more wonderfully eerie now.

RELIABLE HAUNTS

Before Hurricane Katrina, the French Quarter was generally, mildly haunted. There were a few locations — such as the Hotel Monteleone and Brennan’s famous restaurant — which were more reliable “haunts” than others.

However, since Katrina, the Quarter’s ghosts have much more energy, and it’s easier to identify truly haunted locations.

For example: like many professional ghost hunters, I was skeptical about the Lalaurie Mansion. Of course, its “ghost” folklore is part of New Orleans’ rich history.

Since Katrina, the Mansion seems more clearly not haunted now. that’s especially true if you compare it with very evident ghosts at the nearby Ursulines convent, the Beauregard-Keyes House, and so on.

GHOST TOURS

0106-unk1During our January visit, we enjoyed Haunted History’s evening ghost tour. This is one tour that is so well-respected and popular, it has remained in business while many other tours folded.

Haunted History’s guides mix fun, folklore, and carefully-researched history in a two+ hour tour featuring well-known and little-known ghosts in the French Quarter. (Visit Haunted History Tours‘ website.)

The photo (above, right) is one of over a hundred orb photos that I took during one of their January 2006 ghost tours.

A MUST-VISIT FOR GHOST HUNTERS

In general, the French Quarter is more vividly haunted than I’ve ever seen it in the past. And, with fewer tourists right now, there’s less psychic “noise” to camouflage the energy from both active and residual energy hauntings.

I don’t know how long these ideal conditions will continue. If you’re a ghost hunter, I recommend visiting the French Quarter as soon as possible. It’s a remarkable opportunity to witness rich, genuine hauntings in America’s most haunted city.

New Orleans, LA, Ghosts – January 2006

My New Orleans report – January 2006

Are there more ghosts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina?

I’m not sure if the ghost population has increased, but evidence of ghosts certainly has.

My trip to Louisiana in late January 2006 was different from what I’d expected.  It wasn’t my only visit to New Orleans after Katrina, but it was one of the most surprising.

I thought most of the city would be cleaned up by January. It wasn’t.

The French Quarter is a little quieter, but generally the same as always. More unexplained orbs in photos, and more psychic eeriness, but… well, it’s the French Quarter. Ghost hunters expect it to be haunted.

By contrast, the city of New Orleans was hit far harder than I’d anticipated, and the clean-up had barely begun.

METAIRIE CEMETERIES

Metairie cemetery after KatrinaDriving in to New Orleans, there is evidence of wind and water damage, but it generally looks fairly normal from I-10. Once you get off the highway at Metairie, things change in a hurry.

Greenwood Cemetery — shown at right — looks the same as always, with minimal damage.

If I didn’t know that a hurricane and flooding had occurred there, I’d say that nothing was different.

Being very familiar with Greenwood, I saw only minor signs of damage, mostly slightly displaced headstones.  The crypts were built to last, and so they did.

Cypress Grove cemetery, Metairie, after Katrina
Boarded-up crypt at Cypress Grove Cemetery

Nearby Cypress Grove Cemetery — shown at left — has always been a bit less tidy, and there’s far more evidence of flooding.

As seen in the photo, some of the brickwork on the crypts is being repaired. When I visited, three workmen were busy improving the cemetery.

Of course, I’ve always referred to Cypress Grove Cemetery in “Fall of the House of Usher” terms. It’s less tidy than Greenwood, and — in my opinion — it has a more personal character.

Generally, I like it there.

I’ve also seen odd, huge canine footprints in the mud at Cypress Grove, suggesting that something very unusual and perhaps paranormal — not a ghost — has walked there.

I’m not sure if the crypts at the Metairie cemeteries were responsible for the “floating coffins.” According to the concierge at one French Quarter hotel, tents were set up after Katrina’s waters receded. Coffins had floated loose, and were stored in tents, waiting to be identified and replaced in the cemeteries.

The tents are gone now, or at least moved away from public view. Except for the kind of obvious damage shown in my photo (above), there’s no way to guess how many graves had serious problems.

NEW ORLEANS’ NEIGHBORHOODS

devastation after KatrinaDuring late winter 2006, driving around New Orleans seemed positive apocalyptic. No electricity in many neighborhoods meant no traffic lights. Some streets were still covered with shards of glass… and whatever else was not scooped up by backhoes that cleared the rubble off the major roads.

If you want to see the massive devastation from the hurricane and its aftermath, take a tour bus from the French Quarter. (As I’m updating this article in early 2016, you can still tour areas left devastated by Katrina. Gray Lines is one of many excellent — and safe — ways to venture into those areas.)

In my photo (above, right), you can see one of the better (less damaged) homes.

Most buildings have a clear water line, inside and out. That’s not the highest level that the water reached, but where the water sat for the longest amount of time, after Hurricane Katrina.

These houses may look okay at first glance, but the wood has rotted. Many homes will have to be torn down and rebuilt. And, in other neighborhoods, all that’s left is rubble… massive piles of soggy wood, broken furniture, and mildewed belongings too black to identify. Oddly, the odor wasn’t too bad when I was there in 2006.

When I drove around in January 2006, I saw a frightening level of desperation among those left homeless. Whenever a Red Cross truck announced over a loudspeaker that they had free free meals and water, people stumbled out, as if from nowhere.

At the time, all I could think was “Night of the Living Dead.”

There will be active and residual energy hauntings throughout New Orleans for many years to come.

At this point, it’s too early to tell how severe the hauntings will be, but even during the daytime, there’s very eerie energy in these New Orleans neighborhoods.

By contrast, the French Quarter looked almost the same as it did before Katrina, with almost no damage. And, it is far more haunted than before. See my next article, French Quarter ghosts after Katrina