Nine years is a long time. Sometimes I feel as if Katrina happened to someone else, and I suppose that in a sense it did. I’ll never again be the woman I was on August 28, 2005. (Yes, Katrina hit on the 29th, but for me the most painful anniversary is the day before, the day we packed up and fled our city; by the time midnight rolled around, we knew we were doomed.). That woman, the B. K. one, was more carefree, more naive. Less anxious. Certainly less skilled in how to rebuild a house and restore flooded furniture.
She didn’t know how to gut a house with a wrecking bar or hang and finish drywall. She didn’t know—really know—just how thin the veneer of civilization is, how quickly so many things she once took for granted--food, gas, police, firemen--could be torn away. Can be torn away. She’d never sat at the bedside of a loved one dying in a hospital with boarded up windows and no laundry service. She’d never had to bury someone at a cemetery in a small town up the river because the family mausoleum was still under water. She’d never looked at mile after mile of destroyed houses for so long that they started looking normal.
Every year, we go through this. The anniversary rolls around, and we remember, and then we try to forget. Last year, we spent Katrina Plus Eight without power as yet another hurricane took aim at New Orleans and didn’t seem to want to go away. At least this year when we raise our glasses in remembrance, we’ll be able to see what we’re doing.