Thoughts on Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and having a brand new baby boy
Sunday, January 22, 2006
NOLA DAY 2
Today started slowly. On my way out to the rally, I stopped at PJs in the Clearview Shopping Center for a cup of iced coffee. My friend from yesterday called. She was sad and wanted her guitar and a computer. She really felt sad. I had offered her money yesterday which she refused. And she said she didn't want it today. But she missed her guitar. So since I have an extra guitar, I am bringing it in March, and I will see if I can round up a computer for her from school. I ran into one of my mom's friends who was chatting with one of her friends. I asked if she needed any help, but she is caught between having work done and getting her insurance money. They are fighting her tooth and nail all the way for every penny which to some extent is their unfortunate and thankless job. We then turned to evacuation day on August 28. She began to cry when she realized that she had lost all the pictures of her daughter. I feel bad, but I got the sense that this kind of breakdown occurs frequently.
Because of the crappy weather, I went to Target to get a raincoat and a poster for the rally.
I went to pick up my buddy to work today. He and his family packed their car and I went over to the Black and Gold Sports Shop. I picked up a New Orleans Voodoo hat (what is going on with them anyway?) and a green fleur de lis Saints shirt.
We had trouble parking for the rally on the levee, but got out there just after 11:30. (I thought it was starting at 11?) It seemed to be wrapping up. I think that it was an opportunity to get people who want to do something on TV. The somethings tend to be things that don't make much sense to me. One guy thinks the plan to rebuild New Orleans is flawed intrinsically and want it back just as it was - projects and crime and criminals and all. I think this is an opportunity to do something great, so I didn't care for his opinion. But I listened. He was recruiting people for his cause. I did see an old teacher acquaintance from my old school down here, so that was nice. Met up with Dillyberto and Oyster on the levee. I wish him and his family well. I don't know how they can endure it, but I hope they do. New Orleans needs people like him. After everyone left, we shucked oysters and grilled them up. The things you miss when you don't live here...
As the coals had burnt out,we decided we either needed to gut a house or drink beer. We choose to drive down to the Lower Ninth Ward and Chalmette via Magazine. Lots of traffic, lots of things back (like the Popeyes near Napoleon! Yeah!) I wanted to talk to some people at Aidan Gill about some stuff and maybe buy a t-shirt somewhere. I ended up buying some art of Wal-Mart shopping carts where they had been left by looters. Interesting stuff. Dillyberto bought me a Defend New Orleans shirt and I bought myself the "Make Levees, Not War"at Metro3. Great place. I also like the "Let's Mess With Texas" shirts.
We drove down Rampart St and to St. Claude. Down Franklin and right on North Robertson. Over the bridge and into utter and complete destruction. I have pictures that I will post at some point. Jesus. That place is f---ed up. People may want to come back there, but there is nothing to come back to. Seriously. Nothing at all there. You can see clear across debris for three blocks. Houses are in various stages of destruction, and I fear that little of it is manmade. The houses were tipped on their sides, on top of cars, collapsed roofs, in the streets, blocks from where they started. It's really beyond description, and all of this is after they have cleaned some of it up.
We drove down into St. Bernard Parish. Things were bad in Arabi, but we went through Chalmette past the Murphy Oil plant. Things didn't look so bad from Judge Perez, but when we turned into a neighborhood things changed quickly. I think my pictures will tell the story, but it was bad. There were some funny things written on houses, some sad, and some just confusing. But it looked like people had done work. Many people are not coming back ("Bye!" "For Sale As Is to Murphy Oil" "Not Returning") which is sad but understandable. Murphy Oil. Grr.
I have been trying to ask people how they deal with this stuff on a daily basis. The answer has been, so far, that they aren't. It's depressing and doesn't seem to be improving. Everytime it looks as if it is improving, someone else comes home, guts their house, and throws their debris in the street reminding everyone how screwed up things are.
Went to dinner (like 20 people) to La Thai in Metairie. Highly recommended. Almost a complete menu and everything is great.
Stories about the hurricane abounded. Shootings of looters. Bodies throwin in the river. 3200 people missing. Fires. Lack of trailers in Orleans Parish. What is happening with the levees? Is there evidence? Is MR-GO going to go?
I grew up in Metairie, LA and lived in actual New Orleans for 12 years. The day that I turned 30, I moved to New Jersey and then to Easton, PA 4 years ago. As luck would have it, I was in New Orleans when Katrina approached and evacuated to Jackson, MS. Other than that, I am a Latin and history teacher at a small, independent school in NJ. I miss New Orleans a lot, think about it all the time, and try to go there whenever the work schedule allows.