Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I felt like I should write something about Katrina. Everyone else is doing it and there’s more than enough pain to go around. I’m so tired of hearing stories from reporters with no clue. It truly is a matter of – "if ya weren’t there, ya don’t know." I’d like to jump on the bandwagon of those from the old neighborhood complaining about why New Orleans is getting all the press when Katrina didn’t destroy that city. (The levees failed. The government failed. Bureaucracy and poor planning won. THAT’S what destroyed New Orleans. On the night of 8/29/05, the city of New Orleans was okay. My neighborhood? It was gone.) But like I said, there’s more than enough pain to go around. I promised I wouldn’t continue that diatribe. Not today. Today is a time to mourn. More than 1800 people died in at least five states. You can’t fathom that kind of loss of life. The bulk of the bodies in my county were pulled from my side of town. Death has a smell….. the kind you can’t get clean.
I tried putting my feelings about today into words, but my words just ramble. I’m not a good enough writer to do any of it justice. So I posted the picture above. That's what was left of my house, taken Labor Day weekend 2005. It was Saturday after the storm before I was able to see the damage myself. That, my friends, is what a wall of water 28 feet high does to a structure. In case you were wondering, a marble coffee table, a few outdoor garden statues and a few china plates were all that we salvaged. A lifetime of memories destroyed.
I thought I might share what I miss the most about my former life. Here’s a snapshot:
· sitting on my front porch, enjoying a drink, watching the world go by
· the rock garden I built all by myself in my front yard
· my pictures, all of my pictures, 31 years worth of pictures
· my job where I worked for seven years that I had to leave because I had no place to live
· my friends who understood what it was like because they lived through it too
· my family because they are now a world away
I can’t begin to explain what was lost a year ago today. Sure, we can rebuild the physical structures and replace many of the lost “things.” But the community, the neighborhood, the soul of my hometown, is gone forever. It can’t be rebuilt because the people aren’t there. They don’t have the means to do it.
Whatever your thoughts on this disaster, take a minute to remember those who lost their loved ones, their communities, their security, their innocence. It’s been a year and we’re not over it.
To those who were there, I share this: Don’t worry, friend. We don’t HAVE to be over it. Ever.
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I'm a New-Orleanian-in-exile (I moved to CA about nine years ago) but not a day goes by that I don't think about Katrina. Every time I remember something from the first 25 years of my life, I think, "Oh, that neighborhood is gone," or "I wonder what it looks like now..." Everyone I love there has been touched in some way, large or small.
I wish I could do more. I hope you find some peace.
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