Thousands of people, including my family, evacuated before Hurricane Katrina bombed the Gulf Coast. I’m quite sure no one wanted to meet her face-to-face. She bustled by, so businesslike, whipping winds out of her briefcase and trampling everything in her path. Weeks later, this fetid water freed from the levees was still sitting in her wake with nowhere to go. New Orleans is a bowl, several feet below sea-level.
Imagine: stillness. Quiet. Blistering heat. The smell of rotting things, mold. No cars going by, no kids playing outside, no mailman, no trains rumbling on the tracks at the end of the block. Just…stifling silence. No birds chirping, even. No birds, period.
And murky water, lots of it. My brother and his friend, Lee, wore tall rubber boots and took a canoe down Glenwood Drive in Metairie to assess the damage at my mom’s house.
The water reflects eerily, like a scene from The Twilight Zone. The only sounds are the paddles splashing and my brother’s camera as he snaps these shots.
Water swirling and filling the first floor of my brother Mark’s home, like a scene from Titanic. I replay the news coverage of people and pets on rooftops. Pets alone, left behind, make me angry.The lines of people at the Superdome snaking around, a swarm of angry bees, a debacle of disastrous proportions.
My brother ventured upstairs to his room. The water was kind enough to leave souvenirs, like mold. You can also see her tracks on the walls, maybe she dragged her fingernails across them. How high she surged, evidence of her power, her prowess. Her ego.
Water swelled into the kitchen, toppled over the refrigerator. Apparently she wasn’t having enough fun, so she took a few swigs of Crown and lazily left the bottle on top of the hood of the stove. She did not clean up her mess. She didn’t care.
Whirling water played artist, creating impressive sculptures of furniture, stacked high, tangled in light fixtures. A once-cherished sofa, now covered in mold, grieves because no one will dare to sit on him again at my uncle’s house. The water left spotty paintings, Jackson Pollock -style, with mold in hues of blue, black, yellow and green. The stench crept into your nose even if you weren’t breathing through it.
Water took everything away…for a very long time. But she couldn’t tarnish the city’s spirit. It has come back, resilient, stronger than ever before.