I struggled with the title of this post as well as the words for this piece. So many emotions flood my mind as I revisit the devastation of Hurricane Katrina with images from five years ago resurfacing. I considered naming this piece When the Levees Broke, based on the Spike Lee Documentary.
However, New Orleans’ creed, Restore, Rebuild, ReNew Orleans seemed more fitting to me as it captures the spirit its people and city.
Two years ago, Allan and I were fortunate enough to win a trip to New Orleans. Three years after Katrina, the French Quarter showed little evidence that category five hurricane had ever been through there, but the memory of Katrina’s attack on the city still resonated with its residents.
As Allan and I did our own damage soaking up every delicious morsel of Cajun cuisine, the shopkeepers and restaurant owners thanked us for visiting, a small reminder that this great city still struggled to revive itself years later after the storm.
As a condition of this trip, Allan was required to build picnic benches for some local schools. The project coordinator led them through the Lower 9th District so the participants could see the damage left behind by Katrina and in turn, understand the significance of their contribution. Building a few picnic tables seemed hardly enough, like a drop in the bucket to a neighborhood that still was drowning in rubble.
Once Allan completed hammering out the picnic tables, we pounded down some Po’ Boys and played like true tourists in this romantic, historical city. With each step on the cobblestone, NOLA charmed us and stole our hearts as she had done to so many others before us.
Five years later as NOLA still recovers from Katrina and now even more damage from the Gulf oil spill, it saddens me to see such any amazing city suffer again. But the people of New Orleans have seen devastation and hard times before. They will use music to lift their spirits and tell their story and to remind all of us to preserve our precious NOLA, her resources and her people.