the apocalypse of August 29th

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.

Until Katrina.

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.

“Laissez Le Bon Temps Roulet”

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About Linda Joyce

Writing is a curious journey. You don't pick it, it picks you. See my website at www.Linda-Joyce.com to learn more about me.
This entry was posted in Authentic Living, Family, Health, Learning, Life, Southern states and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to the apocalypse of August 29th

  1. kcbobbie says:

    What a touching tribute to your hometown and I agree with you, New Orleans has a strength that will continue to withstand and thrive.

    Did you see the movie “Beast of the Southern Wild”? I think of the spirit of those characters and especially of the little girl. Tough, strong, lots of heart and courage. Makes me think of the people of New Orleans and the surrounding area.

    • Linda Joyce says:

      Bobbie,

      The movie is on my list. I did hear the NPR interviews with the producers, and the two main characters. I look forward to seeing it.
      Thanks for stopping by.

      Smiles,
      Linda Joyce

  2. I’ll meet you there. I have been to New Orleans twice and both times, it was love at first site. It amazes me how nature can come along and reclaim an entire city. I’m sure that in the history of the planet this is just one of many times, but to have it happen twice in my lifetime is a little extreme. I pray for the families, that this time around, the evacuations included EVERYONE and that like before, we band together to help rebuild.

    • Linda Joyce says:

      Miss Diva,

      Road trip! NOLA or bust.

      When Katrina hit, I was uanble to travel, however, I volunteered at the Red Cross in Kansas City, where I lived at the time. I talked with so many doctors, nurses, fire fighters and tree service folks – taking names and numbers and info about their schedules – they were volunteering to help. I did get certified with the Red Cross, taking the orientation class needed to become a responder.

      I am watching the storm. Waiting for reports from family and friends. Miss Glaydis, I spoke to her last month, lives two doors down from Grandma’s old house. My parents were visiting Biloxi, but evacuated yesterday. The only good out of the storm will come for those in the Midwest where the drought has turned everything brown.

      Smiles,
      Linda Joyce

  3. Bob Mueller says:

    Didn’t know you were from NOLA. My late mom (Beatrice Baldinger) was raised there, in Metairie Parish on Homestead. My late aunt Mary Baldinger was part of the Krew of Hermes, and her dad (an Agregaard) was a founding member of that Krew. My uncle Ed still lives there.

    • Linda Joyce says:

      Bob,

      NOLA is my hometown. And, since you have connections there, you “know” what NOLA is about. *grins* People think it’s Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street, but it’s soo much more. Did you spend time in New Orleans? Do you have a favorite memory, or place, or food, or music, or? Please share. I love hearing about home.

      Smiles,

      Linda Joyce

  4. pamelavmason says:

    I have a lump in my throat, because I know Exactly how you feel. In June we buried my mother in law. She married her second husband on a Saturday; Monday the newleyweds packed up the car and evacuated west. She suffered tiny strokes that eventually brought on the dementia and then full blown Alzheimer’s.

    We visited my old home in Arabi, St. Bernard. It stands and is being repaired by a man who thought he’d come down to NOLA and flip real estate. He let me and my husband and son inside, and I flew through the house, bubbling with memories and markers and exclaiming over things that my daddy had built that still remained. But next door, Mr. Frank’s house is a weedy concrete slab, and Camille’s house beyond has a big black X – still.

    We went to visit my cousins too – they run the lumber company that my great grandfather started over a hundred years ago. John J. Vetter bought out St. Bernard Cypress and renamed it Vetter Lumber Company in 1910. Katrina’s waters went 12 feet high in the retail part of the business, and my cousins marked it by changing the paint color from white to green. They pumped out water, lost thousands of dollars worth of inventory, fought fires, and defended the place, and themselves, from looters.

    Yesterday I recalled my own memories of Betsy, and my brother, sister, and cousin all emailed me their own memories. It was a pale reminder of the community we drew together when we all huddled together with flashlights and the weather radio and Monopoly, but at least we were together.

    I know Linda. Tomorrow will be better.

    • Linda Joyce says:

      Pamela,

      I am sad to hear about your mother-in-law. Those circumstances are not the ones we want to carry us home.

      You know exactly how I feel, and also the torture of enduring a hurricane. It’s more than just beating rain and howling winds. It’s the off and on-again bands of wind and rain. A calm that fools you into thinking the worst is over. Then, another band surges through. It’s a scary and daunting and tiring under the best of circumstances. And with Isaac, it’s going on for hours and hours.

      I once told my husband that nothing changes in New Orleans. I navigate my way using landmarks more than street names. Boy did that change in 2005!
      Yet, there is a resiliency in Louisiana that keeps folks bouncing back.

      Thank goodness.

      We’ll make tomorrow a better day.

      Hugs,

      Linda Joyce

  5. Pingback: Small World Department | In•de•fix•a

  6. Donald Clements says:

    Well said, one and all… Our spirit is what keeps us all alive and supporting that which we love. I’m grateful for the spirit of the people of New Orleans…. Don Clements

  7. I’m a new follower and like your blog. Great work.

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