Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Remembering Katrina

Last year at this time I was preparing to go to bed, as I will tonight in a matter of minutes. My older daughter had spent the night at my house the night before the storm and would stay one more night before going home. My younger daughter was home with her family. Hurricane Katrina had come and gone, but her trail of destruction would scar hearts across the country.

Compared to people a few miles closer to the Gulf, we'd had smooth saililng. Both of my daughters' homes had lost electrical power and I lost cable TV. Period. Not complaining for a moment about that. Even that had been restored before bedtime.

Throughout the day we'd been able to pull in the shaky, grainy picture of one local channel, and we'd watched it all day long, mesmerized by what was happening so close to us. Little did we know that that was only the first day of the tragedy unfolding, that things would get much worse as the week went on.

Both my daughters went to work at the Red Cross shelter over the next few days, and both of them told me stories about the people they met there, people who suddenly found themselves living in an episode of the Twilight Zone. They brought lists of names to me and asked me to do computer searches for those names on databases that were springing up to help people locate their loved ones. Surreal doesn't even begin to describe that week.

It's been a long year if you measure by the damage that's still visible and the people who still don't have permanent homes. On the other hand, if you live anywhere near Katrina's path and there's a tropical storm in the Gulf (which there is), you can measure the brevity of the year by the gooseflesh on your arms.

May God bless all those people whose Katrina memories are so much worse than mine.


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For some of the best photos and essays about Hurricane Katrina, check out Operation Eden by Clayton Cubitt.

8 comments:

  1. on the satlite today they have been showing new orleans and all the destruction that is there. i wonder if they will ever get it cleaned up.i had a front road seat last year on the satlite.they showed some awful things.

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  2. I just don't understand. My heart continues to feel for the victims. When I look around, I have little; but, in reality, I have so much.

    God bless them.

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  3. I was just reading in the paper yesterday how little of the money allocated to help the displaced and for construction has actually been disbursed. I read about how unscrupulous contractors are raking the money in, providing minimal value in return. It is unbelievable to me how people can take advantage of such a tragic situation.

    Almost half of all children in NO lived in poverty BEFORE Katrina. I can't help but think how quickly Beverly Hills would be rebuilt, if it had been devastated by catastrophe.

    That gooseflesh will not subside anytime soon, Velvet. A perfect fall day, with a beautiful bright blue sky will do it for me every time - even five years later.

    Yes, Velvet and Priss, I hope God blesses them all.

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  4. It was hard for us to watch, a thousand miles away, can't even imagine what it was like for you right there. You must have felt very helpless being so close and yet unable to do anything for those stranded people. Certainly a dark time for our Country's history. Carmon

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  5. Operation Eden is an amazing site. I have friends who bought one of his prints (the one of the German Shepherd standing on the pile of post-Katrina junk, protecting what was once his home).

    I'm currently reading Chris Rose's book of his essays from September through January, "1 Dead in Attic" Gut wrenching and hopeful at the same time.

    It's the saddest of anniversaries, is it not? Blessings.

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  6. Hard images to see even a year later. Spike Lee's new documentary When the Levees Broke is amazingly comprehensive in its analysis of before, during and after the storm. In my opinion four hours not wasted.
    It took me years after Tropical Storm Allison to stop freaking out everytime it rained for more than an hour. The residents of the Gulf Coast will not soon rid themselves of the stress but in time it will get better.

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  7. Such devastation and misery. I remember seeing it on TV, listening to people's accounts and being only able to guess at their trauma and admiration for all those who forgot their own plight to help others more needy.

    Sandy

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  8. You folks have big hearts, and I love you for 'em. (But then I've known that before now.) Thanks to all of you for your heartfelt comments.

    Reading, thanks for visiting. I checked out your blog and loved your "Love Letter" to New Orleans. Hope you'll come again.

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