It’s that day again. I’ve handled the Katrinaversary differently over the years at First Draft:
Some years I’ve posted the Remember image that was created by my friend the Typist DBA Mark Folse then went dark for the day.
In recent years, I’ve published variations on The Spirit of ’05. It went up last year as Hurricane Ida was on its way to Adrastos World HQ.
All hurricanes deviate from their predicted course at the last minute. So it was with Ida. We decided to stay because it looked as if it would sideswipe us. While it was not a direct hit, it came close; centering in LaPlace, which is a mere 36 miles away.
There’s no good way to deal with a hurricane: evacuation and hunkering down are equally shitty. We evacuated for Katrina and stayed for Ida. We sat in traffic for the former and sat in a powerless house for the latter. Both were miserable but I prefer knowing what’s going on to wondering how you fared.
We were flying blind after Katrina even though we had media access. The area code 504 cell towers were down so we couldn’t communicate with friends and neighbors. That didn’t happen last year. Social media was also a positive in the aftermath of Ida.
We lost power for ten days after Ida but only stayed in our sweltering abode for half the time. After Katrina, we were gone for nearly two months. Life as a perennial house guest lost its charm for me but I know how lucky we were housing-wise.
Katrina was a manmade water event. The winds weren’t high and scary for that long in New Orleans. The levees broke leading to the designation, the Federal Flood. We expected to be home in a matter of days. Instead, we had to sneak into town to check out conditions in our neighborhood. We were lucky.
Ida was a wind event in my neighborhood. We were again lucky as our house is nestled between two larger buildings. They had damage, we did not.
Katrina had a greater impact on my life than Ida. I began my life as an internet writer because of it. Like Richard Widmark’s character in Night and the City, I was an “artist without an art” before then. Who the hell wants to be Harry Fabian? I was already a community activist but that increased in the wake of the storm and flood before slowly diminishing as the 10th Katrinaversary approached.
I’m not big on celebrating the anniversaries of tragic events. For example, I don’t remember the dates on which those closest to me died. I prefer to remember them in life, not the date on which they passed away.
The local media has launched into blanket coverage of the two hurricanes with a focus on Hurricane Ida. That’s led to some unease among those of us for whom Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood were life changing events. I lived through both, and I know which was more important in the big picture, but I wouldn’t say that if I lived in LaPlace.
In 2005, we were afraid that broad swaths of New Orleans would be wiped off the map and the NOLA diaspora would not return. That did not happen because we fought back against those who would diminish and degrade our city. It was worth saving from the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans. It still is.
Locals are down on New Orleans right now. The pandemic and subsequent lockdown took a lot out of everyone but we’re experiencing creeping normality, which includes a rise in violent crime. Life here has always been hard, but nothing worth having or saving is ever easy. So it is with New Orleans.
We didn’t fight to save the city after THE STORM to see people fold because we have a lousy mayor in 2022. We had a lousy mayor then too, but we made it through. The downside of social media is that everything is magnified and over dramatized. Things are NOT as bad as they were in 2005-8. If we can survive C Ray Nagin, we can survive LaToya Cantrell.
I realize that the post title will trigger some people, but I felt it was important to ponder the first of many double whammy anniversaries. Life is full of coincidences: Katrina and Ida striking on the same day is a particularly poignant one. It’s time to gather our strength and continue picking up the pieces. It’s worth it.
The last word goes to Neil Young followed by Roxy Music: