8/29/05

This date is forever embedded in my mind. It’s the day that Mother Nature tried to take away my hometown, New Orleans.

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Mother Nature came in the form of a major hurricane.

It was devastating to the area, but thankfully, not to the point to where the city couldn’t come back.

I think Katrina proved to New Orleans that the city is not ready to take on a full-on category 5 storm. Because of that, the Corps of Engineers is working day in and day out to protect the city from what is called “100 year storm”. Many people are against the Corps of Engineers, but from working with these dedicated people for almost a year and a half, I can attest that the people who work there are amazing, intelligent and determined to reach this goal!

It’s relieving to see all of the efforts out in the New Orleans area, because the damage that occurred 4 short years ago was really scary. I remember not being able to talk to my own family for days after the storm, because the cell phone towers were absolutely flooded with calls. Eventually, cell phones were only able to get through to 911 since things were pretty crazy.

I remember religiously watching CNN from my dorm room in awe, because so many places like the mall I went to as a teen was flooded with alligators swimming around it. I remember trying to find out what happened at home. I was so scared because my parents live right off the Mississippi River levee. Thankfully, my parents’ home was fine, but as for my grandmother and aunts? It was absolutely terrible. Their homes were flooded almost halfway up the first floor. They have since recovered, but it was a horribly painful process to get their houses back to normal and many priceless items were destroyed in the flood.

When the storm was over, while school was still closed, our basketball arena became a limbo place for New Orleans refugees. They couldn’t keep so many people there, so it became a rest place for a few hours before you were sent to either Shreveport or Houston, TX. So, my friends and I spent our afternoons volunteering there, making sure people received MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) and understood where the buses would be taking them. I met so many hopeful people there, but it was, at the same time, very upsetting, since these were people I probably passed everyday when I would be home.

6 months later, I decided to finally go home and face it in person. My mother drove me to the Lakeview area, which was right next to a levee breach. I took some pictures of what I saw.

neworleans2This home was right across the street from the levee breach. You can see the water line on this home very clearly. (Just look at the brick that has an orangey hue.)

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You can see the water line very distinctly here, as well as if you look very closely, you can see a white “X” painted on the house to the right of the door. That meant the house was searched for bodies or animals. It listed the date above it when the search occurred, which looks like 9/21. If anything was found, that would be posted on the house as well.

To this day, you can drive by parts of New Orleans where homeowners opted to keep these marks on their homes, in memory of what happened 4 years ago.

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The area of Lakeview had many expensive homes around there. Many of the homeowners simply abandoned their homes, deciding not to return to the city. It was overwhelming to return to what was left. So, insurance companies offered very small amounts of money to buy the land back. This house was easily over $200K pre-Katrina.

It’s really crazy what happened 4 years ago, but every time I drive back home from Baton Rouge, I see more and more places still coming back. It’s great to see the spirit of New Orleans at its highest ever, and I hope it stays that way for a long time. There is no place like home. :)

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