When Doc returned from a short weekend trip to New Orleans she looked rested, but I could sense something was amiss. I had been happy to hold down the fort while she was away. After we were alone in the house and I was cuddled up beside her with my head in her lap she told me what was bothering her and asked me to tell this story to all of you.
Doc had not been back to New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina hit in August of 2005 and she told me after 14 years she was shocked at how the city had changed. She saw parts of the city that had not been rebuilt since the hurricane because the people who had fled their homes and businesses came back to devastation. They could not afford to rebuild and left. This occurred because people in certain parts of the city were not required to buy flood insurance as they were told they were not in a flood zone. No flood insurance no money to rebuild. There were also instances when some home owners returned to find that someone came in while they were gone, paid the back taxes on the property when the property owner was unable to. Because the place they worked had also been destroyed they had no income and as a result, they lost ownership of their home.
Mass casualties occurred as a result of Katrina. This can still be seen represented in spray paint with an X on the front of those structures that show the number of how many people died, how many pets were found dead and how many were still alive inside the house.
Although there is homelessness everywhere in the United States, Doc noticed it had increased in New Orleans since her last visit. People living openly on the streets in most areas of town, sleeping on the side walks, their only possessions being what they were wearing, searching through the trash for anything the tourists had casually thrown away. She wondered if these were some of the people who had lost their homes and were never able to come back from all the devastation and lost hope. ” Grover, she said, it felt overwhelming to see all of the suffering and not know how to help.” One of the residents she talked to told her it helps when tourists come and spend money as the economy grow stronger, helps the businesses and the people who work in those businesses. The city is rebounding, and continues to improve, the citizens are determined to move forward, but the scars still exist.
For Doc and I it is a reminder of how fragile life can be and how Mother Nature can destroy anything in her path, altering the course of your life in an instant. It’s easy to get caught up in our daily lives and not realize others are still struggling from the devastation of a single life changing event.