August 29, 2005


NOAA radar map of Hurricane Katrina as it approaches New Orleans.
NOAA radar map of Hurricane Katrina as it approaches New Orleans. Map courtesy NOAA.
Flooded New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina
Flooded New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Photo courtesy FEMA via Wiki Commons
National Guardsman looks over the flooded New Orleans.
National Guardsman looks over the flooded New Orleans. Photo courtesy of the DOD
Desroyed houses along the London Street Canal.
 along the London Street Canal. Photo courtesy Wiki Commons
Chalmette Hurricane Katrina destruction.
Chalmette Hurricane Katrina destruction. Photo courtesy FEMA via Wiki Commons.

Eight years. Funny how time flies. As you know, I rarely publish pictures or words that aren’t mine. I do that for a number of reasons. Most of them are mostly about artistic integrity. Some are for legal reasons. Others are simply because I don’t see the point in aggregating or curating other’s work. There are plenty of other bloggers who do that. And, they do that well. After all, I produce my own work. I do not see a time when I’ll stop. It’s what I do. But, every now and then, a moment  comes when I either have to commemorate it or reflect on it… something that was so terrible that I must move beyond the limited scope of my work. I hope that you understand.

August 29, 2005. Hurricane Katrina made landfall at Buras, Louisiana. It headed towards New Orleans . It rained hard. The winds blew hard. The levees broke. And, the city flooded. So, did much of the region. You know the rest.  We suffered as a neighborhood. We suffered as a city. We suffered as a state. We suffered as a region. We suffered as a country. It’s all history. I’m not here to rehash anything. I’m just here to remember… and reflect. And, think.  Nothing else. At the end of the day, I’ve moved on. I’ve worked hard. I moved to New Mexico for some years.  I returned.  To New Orleans. The call of my adopted home was just too strong. I lost some things. And, I gained others. I can tell you that the things that I lost were not important. They things I gained are far more precious.

Later today, there will be bell ringing ceremony, a moment of silence and the scattering of flowers on the water.  But, I won’t be  attending. It’s not that important to me. Instead, I will be photographing in The Lower Ninth Ward. It is there that people suffered as much or more than the other neighborhood in New Orleans. Today, it’s pretty quiet in the area closest to the canal. A few people have returned. They live in homes that they had built or that were built by actor Brad Pitt’s Make it Right organization.  Much of the area has returned to nature. We have a phrase, “it ain’t der no mo’. ” Well , for the most part, the Lower Ninth Ward — at least on the lake side of Claiborne Avenue – ain’t der no mo. To be sure, much of New Orleans has returned and recovered, perhaps better than before the storm.  New construction abounds. More new  people have moved to the city. They seem to be helping us. They are young. They are energetic. They are helping to shape things that are good for the city. But, things are different. My friends say that. I feel it. That’s okay. Eventually, I’ll feel more at home. Things change. And, that’s good.

These pictures. First off,  let me be very clear. I didn’t make, take, photograph, capture or snap any of the pictures that you see in front of you. Nor, are they the most memorable or famous pictures that were produced in the days, weeks, months and years that followed. Here’s why. The very best storytelling images are owned by the photographers who made them. Their rights are protected.  As they should be. The images on this post are memorable because they document the after effects of the storm. Most are not well-known. Besides, I’m a photographer. Some say I’m an artist. I don’t like it when somebody steals — er, borrows — my work. So. I won’t do it to someone else. These pictures were curated from images provided by Wiki Commons, NOAA, FEMA or the DOD. The short of it is simple. I already own them. So do you. So does every United States citizen.  They are ours. Well, the exception is Wiki. But, their contributors are generous enough to share them and the rules of Creative Commons. Look at them, enjoy them. Think about them They are all part of our collective memories.

2 Comments

  1. Hi Ray,
    Appreciated your reflections on New Orleans due to Katrina. I don’t think of any of us who haven’t lived through such an experience can ever really understand. But my thoughts are with you and our fellow citizens of the area. We do what we can to help financially because we are all in this together. Love your comment about things lost and gained; so true. Joni Mitchell succinctly put it once “somethings lost and somethings gained in living every day”.

    Tragedy is something we can all relate to, unfortunately – sometimes we come out better for it and sometimes we need more time to realize that. Our vision changes over time and that change has been quite welcome for me.

    Glad to hear that youth and energy is taking up residence; that injection is so welcome.

    I’m in the middle of honoring my own loss, but I will include all of you too.

    Take care and keep on doing what you do.

    Kath

    Like

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