August 29, 2009 marks the 4 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina for New Orleanians. Driving the streets of the City, there is progress around every turn. But do you know what the biggest sign of recovery is for me? I didn’t even realize the anniversary was tomorrow.
The year after Katrina, I felt like I grieved the entire month of August. I dreaded the anniversary of the Storm because I knew the emotions I safely tucked away would come flooding back (pun intended). And they did. Big time. But as each year passes, I find myself being less reflective over the past and more excited about the future of my City, my family and my LIFE.
I still feel it necessary to do some small reflection of the event, but this year, I think I will focus on the POSITIVE. Don’t look shocked….there actually was SOME positives of Hurricane Katrina.
1. Humility. Being an educated woman, I NEVER (even in a million years) thought I would be standin
g in line for food stamps or a free hot meal. My degree was supposed to shield me from these types of things, right? Wrong. If I ever judged someone standing in front of me at the grocery who pulled out a food stamp card, or turned my head away from the homeless, I am truly sorry. Shit happens. I learned that 4 years ago.
2. Courage. As I watched our City drown from a hotel many miles away, I felt utterly helpless. All my husband and I could do was sort through the facts and start to pick up the pieces of our lives. We had to press on and start over. We HAD to. And we did. Now that I look back at what we went through, I am shocked I managed to get through it unmedicated. LOL! I learned so much about the strength I have inside of me. You know how when you work out REAL hard at the gym for the FIRST time and you wake up the next morning with sore muscles you never knew existed? I discovered courage, strength and bravery within that I didn’t know I possessed. Cool.
3. Kitchen Cabinets. I got new kitchen cabinets. Seriously, I HATED my old ones and was half glad they flooded. I have pretty green ones now. But I still can’t cook.
4. The Spirit of Volunteerism. When we came home for the first time, it literally looked like a bomb went off….a wet bomb. But despite the fact that everyone had work to do on their own homes, people walked up and down our block asking if anyone needed water, food or just a helping hand. Major companies came from inside their corporate offices to get into the streets and work with the residents in any capacity that was needed. Policemen and women came from all over the country, leaving their own families to help keep out streets safe and insurance agents spent countless hours trying to sort through the endless claims. It was an incredible sight and I am so glad I was a witness.
5. Brad Pitt. Who wouldn’t want Brad Pitt to come to their City to rescue them?
6. Friendship. You always believe you can count on your friends in your time of need, but when you actually become a recipient of so much generosity, you realize what selflessness truly means. I received countless phone calls (when the lines were open), text messages, cards, care packages and gift cards from friends that were GENUINELY concerned for my family and I. The generosity was incredible, overwhelming and awesome all at the same time.
The Storm brought out a new spirit of community in New Orleans and improvements are all around. Four years later, we have a long way to go, but the struggle is completely worth it.
New Orleans, still proud to call it home! Thirty five years and counting…….