I heard on the news the other day that it is the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I can’t believe how time flies.
I had the pleasure of visiting New Orleans 3 years ago to attend my cousin’s wedding. My aunt and I took the red-eye flight out on a Friday night and spent a whirlwind weekend site seeing, eating, and visiting with family in this gorgeous amazing city. I have never visited a city that felt so vibrant. It’s very nature assaults all of your senses like no other place I’ve ever been. The smells of delicious food wafting from the restaurants or the flowers in the garden district. The sights of the architecture, cemeteries, gardens, waterways, people. Amazing. And the sounds of the music coming from the clubs in the French Quarter or the different languages or accents spoken by both residents and visitors alike.
The wedding was amazing. One of the prettiest and most interesting times that I’ve ever had at a wedding. The guests were wonderful, the bride beautiful in her wedding dress, good food, good music. It was so much fun. Dancing and good times.
But outside of the home where the wedding was held there was an eerie feeling to the neighborhood. It had been two years since the levy broke on that fateful day of August 28, 2005. There were still watermarks on the sides of the buildings that showed how far the water had risen. You could see where they had written body counts in chalk against the siding of the homes. Stores were closed. Street cars not running. Abandoned homes everywhere. FEMA trailers parked in front of decimated homes. It was really sad.
The people we met spoke of their experiences during the weeks in the aftermath of the hurricane. How come things were being rebuilt so slowly? Where was all of the government aid and money that was supposed to be provided? There was talk that Brad Pitt was filming a movie in the area and had put millions of his own money into revitalizing the 9th Ward. But the frustration and anger at the disconnect between the action and help that was supposed to be and the reality of the rebuild was incredible. I felt helpless and angry.
Something else I felt that weekend though was the energy and optimism of the residents of New Orleans. Their ability to see past the decaying buildings and empty lots and to a future filled with possibilities. They knew it would all work out ok. That they would come back stronger than ever. Be as beautiful of a city as ever. And 5 years later a lot of things have changed.
Yet now the city is hit yet again with the huge BP oil spill. They just can’t seem to get a break as they see their waters polluted with the sticky oily substance. Their shrimp harvesting season a mess. The fishermen losing millions of dollars and our ecosystem in disarray. But I get the feeling that their indomitable spirit and hopeful optimism will prevail and that they will rebuild and renew once again. For the city of New Orleans truly understands the term joylicious! In every sense, smell, touch, and taste of the word.