A Bleak Situation

A sign against the bulldozing of homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina is seen in the Lower Ninth Ward district of New Orleans, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2006. Under pressure from angry residents and a lawsuit, the city says it will soon begin notifying owners of every hurricane-damaged home slated for demolition, even those pushed into streets by floodwaters or reduced to piles of debris. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo
This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
I was in New Orleans for a couple days this week, and here's a couple of things worth noting:

It's still a mess — a huge mess. Entire neighborhoods are empty. Really — not a human being in sight. Folks there are stymied by red tape, fights with insurance companies, a bankrupt utility company — and that's just the easy stuff.

The president was right when he said last week that the New Orleans he saw reminded him of the one he used to visit as a young man. Yes, that New Orleans of the big hotels and French Quarter is still there and open for business. Restaurants like Gallatois, K-Paul's and even good, old Mother's are servin' up etouffee and red beans and rice. The National Guardsmen are gone and most of the debris is off the streets

The heartbreak though, starts just blocks away. 80 percent of the housing in New Orleans sustained significant damage, and New Orleans won't really be back until the people come back.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.
By Harry Smith