Local Woman Makes Light of Road Construction by Sun Bathing on Street

Photo Courtesy of Emily Soileau

Life’s a beach! 

What are you supposed to do when New Orleans road construction invades your street and causes a sandy mess? If you’re Emily Soileau, you grab a book, a towel and a swimsuit and you make the most of it.

Soileau is a veterinary technician and a New Orleans transplant from Baton Rouge who has lived in New Orleans for almost a year and a half. When she and her husband, James, married late last year, they decided to buy a house in the St. Claude area.

“We immediately started cosmetic renovations ourselves,” she explained. “We got a letter one day saying they were going to begin building new streets in St. Claude and they were going to start with our street. To be fair, as a lot of the city can understand, the street was really bad. Water pooled up into it all the time, from underground, and the potholes were so severe, you’d destroy your car going over 15 mph. James and I were, and still are, thankful to be getting a new road but it hasn’t come without challenges.”

It was just Emily and James’ luck that the street work started on February 1st, which just happened to be the day the couple moved into their new home. Thankfully, the city does seem to be keeping the neighbors apprised of the construction schedule with regular updates, although the dates seem to be a bit off.

“We still laugh at the flyers that get left on our cars, under the wiper blades, occasionally letting us know that the crew expects to be finished in our area on March 31st,” Soileau said in our interview on April, 29th.

Not only is the couple unable to park in front of their home, but grime from the ongoing construction has become an unwelcome member of the family. There’s no avoiding tracking it in and Soileau said that it’s everywhere.

“We sweep, vacuum, and sweep some more, multiple times a day, but our hardwood floors still manage to get covered in this really fun “street dirt” that sticks to the bottom of your feet, gets all over the couch, in our bed and in the shower,” she explained.

Last week, Soileau posted a video of her sandy street and was DM’ing with Morgan Searles, her cousin in Chicago, when Searles had a brilliant idea. She suggested Soileau go out with a towel and some floaties and pretend she’s at the beach.

“I thought the concept was hilarious, and as soon as we had a sunny day, I did just that,” Soileau said. “I grabbed my favorite book (The Shining), put on a swimsuit, played some music, laid down in the street and imagined I was somewhere in Florida, instead of the middle of the city. James snapped a couple pictures and they were funny, so I posted them on my Instagram

Photo Courtesy of Emily Soileau

She tagged one of her favorite Instagram accounts, lookatthisf*ckinstreet, that documents the “cracked and sinking streets of the Crescent City”, and the rest is local history.

Soileau said she’s glad that her post could bring a smile to some people’s faces and she sees her photo as her way of making the best of a frustrating situation.

She explained, “A few people commented, ‘she’s making lemonade out of lemons’ and that’s really what it felt like. It’s annoying as hell living in the city with a dirt road, and we are totally prepared for it to take a long time to be finished, but you have to work with what you’ve got sometimes. I’m refusing to put any rugs down until we have pavement again but hey, when life gives you lemons, or in this case sand, throw a solo beach party in the middle of the street.”

Soileau knows that she’s not the only one being inconvenienced. She said that the couple’s favorite hang, Okay Bar, has been dealing with the road work as well, and it’s even cost them some business.

“[Okay bar] is a super fun spot James and I have loved to hang at since moving to the neighborhood,” she said. “They host events with local vendors every weekend and they have had to shut down a couple times due to the roadwork.”

The couple knows that the road work is all for a good reason and they’re excited that they will have a nice, fresh new street soon.

“We are definitely thankful to have a better and safer road in the end,” Soileau said. “I’m just happy to have made some people laugh.”

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