Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Katrina Day Number Three and Counting

Friday will mark the third anniversary of the day Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf shore, essentially wiping out the New Orleans we all knew and loved, and altering forever those of us who lived through it. It’s a story the rest of the country has long since grown tired of hearing. But for those of us who still live here, the storm is a part of our lives. It’s become a tradition for a group of us to take a tour of the city, then meet for lunch at a local restaurant before heading over to the home of author Laura Joh Rowland for desert. Laura’s house in Gentilly took about four feet of water on the bottom floor, and she says organizing the annual event means she has something to look forward to on that day, rather than simply dreading the memories the anniversary inevitably brings.

I’m not sure that works for me. But the get-togethers make for a fun day, and since it’s been a while since I’ve driven out to Chalmette and the Ninth Ward, I’m also curious to see how things are progressing down there.

In my own neighborhood, probably one out of every fifteen or so houses is still empty—gutted and abandoned. I often look at those houses when I go for a walk and try to understand what happened to the people who used to live there. Are they dead? Are they someplace else, still paying mortgages on houses they don’t inhabit? Why don’t they sell the houses? Or if the bank has repossessed them, why doesn’t the bank sell the properties? Of course, in the truly devastated neighborhoods, selling probably isn’t an option.

With Hurricane Gustav now taking aim at the Gulf, we're also all reviewing our evacuation plans...which has added a nasty fillip to the looming anniversary.


Steve Malley said...

I keep remembering that sense of invulnerability my friends had: two previous hurricanes had caused flooding, but the levees held and everything was fine. These days, I wonder if any of them are still alive, but there's no way to know.

Be well.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm too busy getting ready for Gustav today to think much about 3 years ago.