Saturday, July 11, 2009
Whenever I go to New Orleans, I love photographing the beautiful statuary in the cemetaries. I find beauty in the crumbling stone angels. I realized as we drove along the freeway, passing the cemetaries of Metarie, that this time I had no desire at all to visit a cemetary. I realized the whole city is a cemetary.
I haven't been bringing the huricane up because I don't want to be a downer, but every single day there has been some reminder of Katrina and its devastation. Every day I saw something that made my heart ache. Passing by the convention center, my mind was filled with images, of people screaming at the news cameras for water, an old lady in a wheelchair forgotten in a corner. Staring at the bridge that crosses the Mississippi, I saw the people stranded at the top as flood waters lapped at the bottom.
I chose not to take the 9th ward tour, because I really didn't have to. Everywhere you go outside of the quarter there are still houses with that giant, unforgettable X painted on the side. It is impossible not to look for the body count and feel relief when there is none. Homes are torn in half, and windows are broken out.
As I caught up with old friends, everyone had a story. Shalai said, "One day everything was normal, then the next day it was like living in a ghost movie." She said even when you think you have a good apartment, eventually the mold comes creeping and makes their homes unlivable.
This is Mike Anderson's, where I got married. Closed. Post-flood inspections showed that they would have to make the floor higher and they chose to let it go.
At least the gorgeous balcony is still there. Someone will fix it up eventually. Let's ust hope to God it's not a Daquiri shop.
Street art and T-shirts still tell the story.
People keep asking me how New Orleans is. Almost 4 years after Katrina, the city is still in shambles. But the people are not. The spirit of the people is indominable. This is not the first hurricane. It is not the first time that the levees broke. New Orleans is a town that was built on cemetaries, voodoo, and disaster. Time after time it has dusted itself off, raised a glass and continued to celebrate life. And I have faith that New Orleans will continue to do just that.