USAToday offers "Amid ruins, 'island' of normalcy in the Big Easy":
..."If you stay on the island, you can almost pretend it didn't happen," says Margaret Jones, co-owner of a stationery shop on Magazine Street that stayed dry during the storm.
Just a block beyond the "sliver on the river," another new nickname, the 75% of the city that was under water for weeks now lies in darkness and ruins. At least 100,000 homes are destroyed or uninhabitable. Buses don't run, lights don't work, gas stations are closed and schools are empty.
Just 10% of the city's businesses are open, says Don Hutchinson, Director of the Mayor's Office of Economic Development. Almost all of them are on the island - which runs from the Bywater neighborhood through the French Quarter, the Garden District, Uptown and Tulane and Loyola universities. On the west bank of the river, the Algiers neighborhood is also on high ground and did not flood...
...Christmas trees sell out in a matter of hours. Restaurants have limited menus and shorter hours because of a severe labor shortage and difficulty finding ingredients. And while more than 700 restaurants have reopened, some 2,300 remain closed. In any given block, several stores remain shuttered with "For Lease" signs hanging in the windows.
Three out of four private-practice doctors have not returned, says Patrick Breaux, president of the Orleans Parish Medical Society. Just two of the nine pre-Katrina hospitals are open.
Babysitters are hard to come by. Most of the private schools are holding classes, but only one regular public school has opened. Sixteen of the city's 28 parochial schools are back in session.
There is a collective malaise hanging over the city, affecting even those who lost nothing.
"Everybody's in slow motion," says Maria Impastato, whose family has owned the Napoleon House in the French Quarter for four generations. "I don't feel like myself. Everyone - our suppliers, the guy that drives the beer truck - we all walk around in a fog..."