The Author

Katrina Revisited

This week is the tenth anniversary of Katrina. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the name, Katrina was a hurricane that devastated the Gulf Coast, focusing its energy on Louisiana and Mississippi. While many parts of the region suffered greatly, the greatest loss of lives and property were in the Jefferson and Orleans parishes of Louisiana. Ironically, it was not the hurricane itself that did the most damage. Winds, high water, and delayed repairs combined to weaken the levees of Lake Pontchartrain so that devastating floods swamped the city of New Orleans. It was the second blow, not the first, that brought the city to its knees.

Perhaps you remember some of the after effects of the storm. The football stadium in New Orleans became a staging area and temporary home for refugees. Churches as far north as Dallas opened their facilities to those who were fleeing the storm with only the clothes on their backs. Schools suddenly had to make room for students who had no other place to learn. I remember sitting in a restaurant with my family a couple of weeks after the storm. Every table other than ours was occupied by folks who had fled the storm. As I eavesdropped on their conversations, it was as though they were speaking a language I had never heard.

I have been reading some stories this week about the lives of those who picked up the pieces after the hurricane. Many of them have remained in the places they ran to. What was once a strange place has become their home. They have new jobs, new schools, new friends. Others returned to the city after the waters receded. They shoveled mud; they threw away washed out memories; they tore down homes; they buried the dead. While some left and some returned, they share a common story. Whatever is now is not what once was. They began again knowing that it would never be the same.

That is what happens when a hurricane hits. We batten down the hatches, we stand in the eye, we look to survive. Sometimes the wind passes and we pick up the pieces and go on. Sometimes, a second blow comes and we are faced with the truth that life will never be the same.This is the blow that takes us to our knees. From there, we decide what we must do.