Wake up. It’s dark, but you stretch your feet to the floor. Wetness makes you flinch as your toes seek solid ground.
You can’t make it outside the house; the water is rising too fast. Where are your glasses? Your car keys? The dog?
Blink. It’s not a movie.
You have no home, no car, no dog.
Remember to breathe. This is your life.
All because of the apocalypse of Katrina.
Louisiana and New Orleans is where my roots run deep. My father was born and raised there. He went to school in the French Quarter, the Vieux Carrè. My grandfather was a riverboat captain, even made his movie debut in the 1940 United Artist release of Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans. My grandfather grew up on the remains of a plantation that was claimed long ago by the wild. My grandmother retired from the New Orleans police force as an honorary captain. She was a Guidry. Her father was from Terrebonne parish. Records show that Guidrys were one of the sixty Acadian families that moved to south Louisiana after English burned them out in 1755.
Heated debates occurred after Katrina’s destruction – to rebuild New Orleans or not. Why should anyone care about New Orleans? Because as an American, it’s an important part of our national history. But, I digress.
Before Katrina destroyed New Orleans, I witnessed a dead town. When I lived in Kansas, I went with a friend to a spot along the Missouri River. We stood a hundred yards inland from the levee where a town used to stand, the town my friend grew up in, but had been forced to abandon along with all of its residence. Remnants of two roads made perpendicular lines to the levee. Weeds and grass choked the sidewalks. We poked through a mountain of rubble that my friend said had been there for close to fifteen years. She pulled a tarnished silver spoon from beneath a log, and then began to cry. I comforted her, but I had no true connection with her grief.
The large pictures above show New Orleans under water taken by Google Earth on September 4, 2005.
The next is my grandmother’s house after the storm. You can’t see the watermarks, but they reach the rafters. The house had been sold before the storm when my ninety-eight-year-old could no longer live alone. I didn’t see the house immediately after the storm. When I returned to New Orleans in 2007, an empty lot greeted me. Brick and mortar, fig trees and the free-standing garage, all gone. The photo of the open lot with white pipes was taken in January 2010.
The last photo shows the remains of the dock and my grandfather’s old boat in New Orleans East on the island where Fort Pike sits.
Isaac is pounding the Gulf Coast today on the seventh anniversary of Katrina. Yes, I’m watching with concern. I want to stand at the foot of Canal Street, stretch my arms wide to hold back the wind and the water. I want to protect what’s mine – New Orleans. This is when I wish I had Super Heroine’s powers. However, New Orleans has survived many invaders and occupiers in the past; she will remain strong after Isaac is gone.
A storm isn’t powerful enough to wash memories away.
The first chance I get, I’m going for a visit. Anyone want to come along? I’ll be your tour guide and show you my New Orleans.