Sunday, October 29, 2006
My Hurricane Katrina Story - Part II (U2 & Green Day)
The Saints (our football team) have definitely helped bring New Orleans back. Having the Saints playing in New Orleans again really brings a sense of normalcy back to us - and for the first season EVER, the Superdome is sold out with season ticket holders.
U2 and Green Day played at the first Saints game held in the Superdome since The Storm. We've hosted nine Super Bowls - more than any other city. Around the city that day, and the weekend right before that Monday night, New Orleans had the feel of hosting another Super Bowl. Plus, since I work two blocks from the Superdome, I was let out of work at 2 pm so I could avoid all the traffic. Go Saints!
Personally, things are relatively back to normal.
My house had sustained minor damage: the large tree in my front yard came down - taking my gutter with it, most of the wooden fence around my house was blown down, my roof lost about 15 shingles, the entire roof of my carport was torn away, my garage had around 3 inches of water in it for about a week, and my hot tub's motor flooded. My area of town thankfully didn't have any serious flooding. (Compared to friends of mine who had 17 feet of water sitting in their house for two weeks, mine was definitely minor damage.) I have fixed everything around my house that I want to for now, but it's an on-going project to finish.
Carlos and I both have our jobs. He's a school teacher and was back to work by October 2005. I work at a local university and went back around the same time. Our department had 179 pre-Storm employees. As of today, we're up to around 40. (My immediate department went from 20 to 3 employees.) We had to lay off the most of the rest because of lack of business, but some just couldn't get back to the city after evacuating because they had no place to live. I'm very lucky!
There are, of course, many areas of the city that will take years to be fixed. Imagine if your house and EVERY house within 10 miles of you had 5 to 17 feet of water sitting in it for two weeks. How long would it take you to recover?
Plus, these people are faced with questions like:
If I return, will I be the only one on my block or in my neighborhood?
What if the levees break again for the next hurricane?
In my area, will there be any schools or playgrounds for my kids? Any grocery stores for me?
We do have some humor about all this. A local organization has an on-going campaign consisting mainly of ubiquitous bumper stickers around the city that say "New Orleans: Proud To Call It Home". Pre-Storm, some clever residents parodied the statement with the bumper sticker "New Orleans: Proud To Crawl Home". Post-Storm, the new one "New Orleans: Proud To Swim Home" immediately started appearing on the bumpers of cars.
I took 100 pictures around the city in October/November 2005. I am narrowing them down to the best 50. Carlos and I are going to go to those same locations in the next couple of weeks to take pictures of the exact same locations one year later. I'm working on a slide show which I'll post to YouTube soon. I'll send a link once I'm finished.