This is our story, this is our song
In October, I found myself really settling into my wetlands work with Bayou Blue as well as settling into living in New Orleans. I also found myself starting the month anticipating my first major storm threat in Louisiana, while ending the month mourning the first anniversary of the major storm that hit my home along the coast of New Jersey.
Our household did a little bit of storm prep for Karen—stocked up on canned veggies and PBJ supplies, stored extra water in the freezer and fridge to insulate the food should we lose power, bought extra candles. Thankfully, the tropical storm fizzled out without bringing us anything more than a breezier-than-normal weekend.
Coming from New Jersey, living in Louisiana has been quite an adventure in seeing a community a few years past a hurricane with a now-retired name. While Sandy was a completely different storm than Katrina, it was devastating and the effects are still very noticeable. I am very fortunate that my home and family fared well. Hardly anything in southern Louisiana has been spared though, and the effects of each storm are still very present—Isaac, Gustav, Rita, Katrina (especially Katrina), as well as countless Tropical Storms and Depressions.
Katrina in particular still serves as the background for anything that has transpired since 2005, good or bad. Helping my home state clean up and rebuild following Sandy in particular prepared me for some of the stories here in Louisiana, stories of having to gut entire homes, finding unsalvageable photographs, needing to move away for a while or for forever, and coming back for a visit or to stay.
One thing I could not be prepared for was my visit to the Katrina Memorial a few weeks ago. This understated memorial is the final resting place of countless people who could not be identified after Katrina. That might be the part I struggled with most. In 2005 and after, we were actually incapable of identifying all of the victims. Despite all of the technology in studying DNA and dental records or even just stringing clues together about missing people… and there were still people unclaimed. Lost. Forgotten. But here they lie.
Thanks be to God that this was a quiet hurricane season for the Atlantic, but the marks have been made. Katrina and others will always be part of the story here, just as Sandy will now always be part of the story at home. I’ve learned quickly though that strength and hope and community and rebirth and restore will also always be part of the story.