It's hard to believe it's already been five years since that horrible morning on August 29, 2005 when Katrina changed the lives of so many people, including my own. In just short five years, I lost everything, moved, bore the loss of my beloved father, watched my babies go from toddlers to primary school, resigned from my law career, opened up a design shop, and rebuilt a house and home. A lot to pack in in just 5 years! And yet, throughought it all, I grew both spiritually and emotionally, and as a woman, mother and wife.
A lot of people often ask me if New Orleans is back to normal. I mean, five years has gone by afterall. I often don't know how to answer that question. Yes, the city has rebounded as most cities and people do -- it's inherent in our human nature. Our New Orleans Saints did win the Superbowl and people, for the most part, have returned to some sort of normalcy in their lives. But behind the city that is not shown on TV, there are still neighborhoods that remain to be rebuilt, houses that remain blighted, schools that remain closed, families that remain apart, and people still waiting to rebuild.
I live in New Orleans in a little quaint neighborhood called Lakeview (as its name suggests, it borders on Lake Pontchartrain). Hurricane Katrina hit southeast Louisiana the morning of August 29, 2005. As the waters of Lake Pontchartrain rose with the storm, a section of levee floodwall along the 17th Street Canal in Lakeview (only a few blocks from my house) near its mouth with the lake collapsed catastrophically. This was one of the most significant levee failures which occurred in the wake of Katrina's landfall and put the majority of the city underwater. Floodwaters from the floodwall breach inundated large parts of the neighborhood in a matter of minutes. Near the breach itself, the force of the rushing water uprooted trees and even separated some houses from their foundations. Some areas received as much as fourteen feet of floodwater. All that survived from my house was the roof.
Five years later and I am happy to report that my block is about 95% rebuilt. As you can imagine, the experience has forged wonderful bonds within all the neighboring families on this block. Our children play together, we watch out for one another, and we celebrate almost weekly by barbequing outside and sitting out on our porches and exchanging stories.
But not everything is as rosey and certainly not every block is as lucky as ours is. Our neighborhood has come back but on every block, on every corner, and on every park, there are signs that Katrina was here. My husband AJ was recently laid off from his accounting job (yes, it finally hit our family too). In the last couple of weeks, and in an effort to stay focused and motivated during his job search, he has gotten into the habit of going for long walks very early in the morning before anyone is up in our household or neighborhood. At 5 o'clock each morning, he gets up and takes his long walks to think, meditate and get his day started. He takes his cell phone with him. Initially, he started to take snapshots with his cell phone of places he walked by simply to show me how far he had walked. But as the days have gone by, he has found it therapeutic and very enlightening to take photos of this city before it wakes up. He posts them every day on his Facebook page.
In remembrance of Hurricane Katrina and the loss it caused to this city (and in an effort to best answer the question of "how is New Orleans 5 years after the Storm?"), I'd like to share with your some of AJ's photos which he took within the last week. I hope you will find beauty in them and a bit of nostalgia for a city that is still working every day to rebuild and regroup. These photos are of places within blocks from my own home. These images have become a part of my daily world, of who I am and who I will become. They are my children's reality of a past that was, a present that is, and hopefully a better future that will become.