Saturday, August 28, 2010

Katrina, 5 Years Later

Tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  Five years ago, we were living in Pennsylvania.  I remember going to bed Sunday night, knowing that the storm was set to make landfall early morning the next day.
Cars parked on the slightly higher neutral ground
I remember not being able to sleep.  I remember that Monday morning, I woke up to rain and put Christian on the bus and watched the news all day long.  As the news coming in from Louisiana became worse and worse, I walked around the house with a lump in my throat and tears close to the surface.  Although we had moved from New Orleans over seven years earlier, we still had many friends who lived there.  Every 20 minutes or so, I tried to call friends in the state.  The lines were down all day.
The Lakeview area of New Orleans
As the days and weeks passed, everyone that I talked to in Louisiana had a story to tell. The evacuees were everywhere. There were shortages in the grocery stores. There were so many cars on the road it was impossible to get anywhere.  Schools were closed for weeks, even in areas outside of New Orleans that had less damage.  In South Louisiana, many businesses were only open for an hour or two a day, because they either had no goods to sell, or no employees to work.
High water line at the top of the front door
Several of our friends lost everything.  My friend Keith was able to get into his neighborhood a week after the storm hit.
He and a friend went in by boat with a ladder and garbage bags to see what could be salvaged.  There wasn't much and it was all from the second story.  He emailed me the pictures he took from that day and they are gut-wrenching.
Mold growing on his leather couch
Although we had seen hundreds of photos and video on televison, there was something about seeing the photos he took that day and especially the ones from inside the house that was horrifying. 
The refrigerators floated up and then crashed down as the water level receded
 People in South Louisiana are quite accustomed to evacuating from hurricanes.  I evacuated from Andrew in 1992 while still at LSU, and Jim, Christian and I evacuated in front of Georges in 1998.  But there is never the expectation that the storm is REALLY going to hit.  Unfortunately, that was not the case with Katrina.
Parquet wood floor tiles
Five years later and we have not been back.  There is a part of me that doesn't want to see the changes in the city or the evidence of the storm that remains.  But the city is recovering.  And I am beginning to want to return for a visit.  

There is an excellent online exhibit about the X codes left on the houses by the first responders.  If you want to take a look, go to The X code exhibit.


Paula said...

I was on semi-bed-rest with Gman at that time. I remember sitting there watching it all on TV as well. Just seems unbelievable that we could have that poor of a response to a disaster in the US. I knew a few who lost almost all. Seems surreal.

Wendy said...

I can't believe it's been 5 years! I haven't been to NO since way before Katrina hit, but I got pictures emailed from family down there. It was surreal. I also have kind of been wanting to go visit, but it's a much farther drive than we were from Atlanta.

Queen B said...

yeah, I remember watching the news all day that day and just getting further and further shocked at how bad it turned out.

our church took in a bunch of evacuees. It was amazing at how difficult their struggle was to (1) survive (2) completely uproot (3) figure out what to do/where to go next (4) figure out what the heck they needed to do to get help.

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