I’m back from New Orleans. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my battery charger for my camera, so I don’t have any photos. So here’s my oral report.

The French Quarter appears largely the same. Although it was a tad dirtier than normal. I think they’re having trouble with the trash pickup. Many of the restaurants, bars and shops were open, but many were still shuttered. (I’d say maybe 70 percent were open.) At the shops that were open, the level of service was noticeably poor. There didn’t seem to be enough staffers to go around.

We had a nice talk with the driver of our horse and carriage. Willie told us that he was a New Orleans native who stayed through the flood. He said he got his FEMA trailer very quickly with no trouble at all. Willie’s living in the trailer that’s parked in his frontyard while he does the repairs on his house.

He said the staffing problem is emblematic of the largest problem facing New Orleans. There’s nowhere for service employees to live. Most of the low-income housing is gone. On top of that, the service jobs don’t pay well enough. “Who wants to make $8 an hour, when you can pick up a hammer and get $20 an hour,” he asked.

All the tourists were incredibly understanding. I’d say it’s a good time to be a waiter in New Orleans. We felt so bad for these overworked staffers that we’d tip them 30 percent and thank them for being there.

All in all, it’s still a great city.

My family and I sat out Saturday afternoon and watched giant cargo ships pass by on the Mississippi while listening to a steamboat organ. On Sunday, we took a carriage tour of the French Quarter pulled by a horse named Stella. And on Monday morning we sat and listened to the Beatles on an electric acoustic guitar while eating beignets and drinking coffee at the Cafe du Monde.

New Orleans will always be New Orleans.