Hurricane. Katrina at 11. I said last year that ten years was enough time to mourn. To rebuild. To reflect. I said that I was done living in post-Katrina New Orleans. That from last year’s ten-year anniversary I wasn’t going to wallow in the Katrina leftovers. I was moving on.
My response was partially due to the national and international media coverage of the “big” ten-year anniversary of the storm and flooding the swamped 80 % of the city. Every possible kind of media descended on the city. Many of them got it wrong. Most of us who actually live here and have recovered were disgusted. We predicted, and got it right, that there would be next to no coverage this year. I saw two national stories on the storm. One in the Huffington Post and another in the Washington Post. That was just fine with me.
Many of my friends who post on social media said the were not going to post anything at all. I kind of agree with them. But, obviously I don’t agree with them all the way. I decided to simply photograph what I saw on August 29, 2016 in the Lower 9th Ward. That’s a big piece of what I do. I document things. Sure, I spin the post production my way. To help make the picture my mind saw. But, still…
Obviously, many New Orleanians felt the same way. Very few people came out.
Look at the top picture. That’s the healing service. Last year the crowd was so big that it stretched into the street and down some of the side streets. Everybody represented. Mardi Gras Indians. Queens. Baby Dolls. Brass bands. Social and Benevolent Societies. And, of course, media from all over the world.
Not this year. What you see in the top picture is what there was. You can count them.
I decide to wander around the Lower 9th Ward and just photograph a few things. What I saw. You may have to open the pictures to see the details.
The big question. What do I think? Feel?
Eleven years on, I don’t feel like the government let us down. Anymore. Oh, they did to be sure. The levees are a federal project that was locally managed. The levees weren’t built all that well and they certainly weren’t maintained. They broke in 57 places. Two neighborhoods were completely destroyed. And just a bit downriver, an entire town was almost wiped off the map. Overall recovery was a mess. You saw the immediate results on CNN.
We can talk about how and why one neighborhood came back and the other didn’t. Well, with the exception of the few streets that actor Brad Pitt’s Make it Right group helped to rebuild.
If you want to get into why most of the Lower 9th didn’t come back, search for it here on Storyteller. Or, Google it. It’s not pretty. It will make you angry, but that’s not my point today.
Instead, while I was photographing around, I saw a lot of beauty. Oh yeah, I find beauty in ruins and broken things, but that wasn’t it.
I saw nature. Doing her thing. She’s been doing it for a while. But, yesterday toward the end of summer with all of the season’s growth I could see it clearly.
And, maybe, just maybe this neighborhood wasn’t meant to come back all the way. Much of it is simply country now. Southern country land. Nature reclaimed it. And, that ain’t a bad thing.
No. I wasn’t sad yesterday. And, I wasn’t reliving the past. I was seeing the now. And, maybe I had a glimpse of the future.