Back Home: 8 Days in New Orleans
We arrived home 8 days ago and ...
- It took less than 24 hours for my nice, clean, new (to me) car to be covered in dust and bird-shit. (At least the birds survived.)
- It took 2 days for the container we shipped via freight line to arrive at the local terminal.
- It took 3 days for the rest of our stuff to arrive via UPS from Charlottesville.
- It took 4 days for my car to get a flat tire from roofing nails in the street. (People who have been here for a while will say, "Only one tire?" My brother had them in three tires after one outing in the city. Fixing flats has become a booming business at the few service stations that are operating around here.)
- It took 5 days for me to get around to removing the boards from the few windows that were covered. It also took 5 days to hook up with my adjustor so he could scope the inside of the house for damage.
- It took 6 days for Kenny, my favorite neighbor, to hold an impromptu get-together with a handful of other neighbors to celebrate our return, (or just as an excuse for us to drink, which is the most appropriate way for us to reconnect with the spirit of our city.)
- It took 7 days for me to stop walking around inside and outside the house trying to figure out what to do first and just pick one thing instead of trying to do everything. (With the beautiful weather we've had, I decided to just focus on the debris and detritis outside the house for now.) It also took 7 days for me to give up on picking up pieces of broken slate tiles that had fallen from the roof to the ground on the side of my house. The biggest pieces are up now, anyway.
- It took 8 days for me to develop the "Katrina Cough." And to get the broadband to work properly at my mother's house.
too bad, at least in the area that escaped flooding. Even my neighborhood is coming back to life, and coming back strong, flood and wind damage notwithstanding.
But, oh, the rest of the city. My poor, poor city. The destruction is overwhelming. After five months, the most severely flooded neighborhoods still look like some scary, post-apocalyptic hell.
Picture Caption: One of my neighbors planted petunias on top of an excavated pile of dirt and concrete on the side of the street.
un-fucking-believable. For the most part, everything is dead. The trees, the grass, the homes, the neighborhoods. Everything is broken down, blown out, brownish-gray, and lifeless.
Picture Caption: These houses are located opposite UNO's campus on St. Anthony St., and were once occupied predominantly by students.
Picture Caption: The boat and Ben Franklin High School, on UNO's campus. The school had four feet of water on the ground floor, but they managed to get it open by Ben Franklin's 300th birthday on January 17th. But neither of my kids' schools has a working cafeteria, which means no hot lunchs for the kids. Alex's school serves Domino's pizzas and Rachel's school serves brown bag lunches of sandwiches, chips and warm milk- I guess it's the kind that doesn't require refrigeration. I'm not sure I'd want to try that.
can't live without.) I have to say that it's really been nice to see how my neighborhood has pulled together to help each other.
Picture Caption: Yes, Oliver-Zaytuni, that's a picture of *our* Janice's house on Pasteur Blvd.
So we are home, but life is anything but normal. There is still so much to be done here, and it's hard to imagine it ever being finished. Katrina is old news to the rest of the world, but for so many of us here, we're still living it every day and it's a long, long way from being over.