Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Under the Bridge

So glad yesterday is over--I am really tired of having all the old dredged up memories and pictures thrown in my face, though I will say that I thought the Spike Lee documentary was very good. I don't understand the outcry against it--it's not only limited to a discussion of the poor black experience, but if it were, that would be a pretty accurate recording of events. He was best at selecting people to interview at length, snippets of which appeared throughout the film. Their voices and experiences were very funny and moving--and you got a chance to see them step forward or back. Very good.

At the same time I can understand why people have a negative response to the film--you feel like he isn't telling YOUR story, because he isn't. These events were so personal, and at the same time so widespread and catasrophic, that every one wants to feel like the world is hearing and seeing their story. I feel that way, and despite my hardships over the last year I am one of the ones that came out on top.

As I think about it, a year ago yesterday wasn't bad for me, because I didn't know anything yet. At that time I was worried sick, as much about the hurricane as the fact that Cleveland, Mississippi lacked a Starbucks. It was Tuesday morning, for me, and the following week learning that I was homeless, my mom was homeless. my brother was homeless. For a while we truly had no idea what we would do, or where we would stay, or, or, or. It was four days before we heard from my father in law, and more time after that before we knew about the house, because no on could get in to see. Being so close to the lake, we thought for sure we would have flooded, but no, it was just trees. We had terrible wind, as the eye of the storm passed twenty miles from me. Jay knew his house was flooded to the roof from looking at satellite pictures, and my mom knew about hers, because my cousin is a Jefferson Parish Police officer, and was able to get in and then send a text message.

Yesterday in the paper was the story of a man--a grandfather--who on the day of storm found himself, three granddaughters, his mother, and brother on the roof of their ninth ward home FLOATING DOWN THE STREET in the floodwaters. In their attempt to reach a safer haven (another floating house) the man lost two of the granddaughters to the floodwaters. One turned up later. One drowned. His mother died awaiting rescue. Unendurable grief, and that's just one man's story.

I have often wondered about how my father would have responded to this storm even though he died years ago. I know he would never have evacuated early, so he would have ended up being one of the ones needing rescue. I don't know where he would hav elanded, but my dad was the kind of person to well in situations that involved strating over. Always, and especially since he died five years ago, I have thought of New Orleans as his city. I used to actually hurt passing by to see the places we ate or danced or whatever. It was a pain in me. Now those places are either gone or changed forever, and that pain starts again.

And my kids still play helicopter rescue, and when they find someting they shout out--LOOK--it got saved from the storm.


At 5:59 PM, Blogger Brian said...

I got electricity back from Katrina's pass through Florida just in time to see it turn into the monster it became, and watch it head for my former home, the homes of my friends, and my daughter who was living in Bay St. Louis. I spent many a day worrying about what was going to happen to the area, and then weeks more filled with righteous anger at the events that followed. It still hasn't really subsided, and Lee's film brought the harshest of those memories rushing back.

I was really impressed with Lee's film, wept through long sections of it, and still have it saved on the DVR, so I can watch it again. (I'll probably buy the DVD when it's released.)

I was in New Orleans not two months ago, and I was astounded by the lack of headway that seems to have been made, even on parts of the Northshore. The wreckage I saw in Slidell just blew me away, and the way New Orleans East is now a ghost town scared me.

Brittany and her mom evacuated to Atlanta, and it was days before they could get back to the Bay to check on their house. In fact, Amy saw that their house was standing before they got back there, by comparing air photos with old Google satellite images.

And now it's a year later, and Brittany left yesterday to move back in with her mom, and we'll be on the lookout for the next storm, because there's always a next one. And we'll pray in secret that this one will go ashore in a place where we don't know anyone, feeling guilty the whole time about doing it.

At 12:45 PM, Blogger Charles said...


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