Katrina Two-Year Anniversary

by Mark Ivar Myhre on August 29, 2007

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Katrina/Levees Broke Update

(My sister who’s lived in New Orleans since she was 5 wrote this letter to our family about how things are going, on the two year anniversary of hurricane Katrina.)

She was also featured in a news article that you can find here. Or if that link doesn’t
work, you can go to http://www.theage.com.au.

I wanted to write an update give you a taste of life
(for us, anyway) these days in New Orleans for the 2 year
anniversary of The Hurricane… But I’m too tired,
too depressed, too drained… and some say that
people outside of NOLA don’t care anyway. (Not you,
of course.) They think we should be over it, move on,
stop dwelling, buck up! It was two years ago!

Well, I don’t have time to organize thoughts and edit
and address all of the issues around here…

BUT— I will say this, as I sit in this FEMA trailer
I’ve called home since February 14, 2006, things are
looking up! We are about to turn a corner! We’re on
the brink of normalcy!

We hope to sign a 10 month lease tomorrow for an
apartment, thanks to FEMA [finally] wanting to get
people out of toxic trailers and offering assistance.
(Those pesky law suits.) I was a bit apprehensive to
use it but Legshe (my sister’s husband – he’s from Tibet –
how cool is that!)
has had enough symptoms to justify
it, not to mention our mental health. I am very
appreciative of this program. (Especially because the
rental prices I reckon are about twice what they were
pre-k, which is why we’ve remained in the trailer for
this long….) This will be our first stay together
each night in a real house, under a non-FEMA trailer
roof, non-blue roof, for more than a couple months…
and it will be wonderful to live in only one location
every night (instead of moving around between houses
and the trailer). Lets hope all the animals get
along. And people, for that matter.



And still, almost all our conversations are inevitably
Katrina/Levee related… it always comes back to it.
Of course a lot of the focus is on rebuilding. A year
ago we were still exchanging information about how to
get assistance, how to get permits, whether to
elevate, how to kill mold… We now check out each
others’ plumbing, examine neighbors’ mold remediation,
discussions usually involve house talk.. exchanging
ideas about water heaters, ac, flooring, etc. its as
if we’ve all become contractors or plumbers or
electricians… learning so much more than we ever
thought we could (or cared to) about rebuilding our
homes.

And then there are those lucky ones who aren’t having
to repair but unlucky that they have to listen to us
go on and on and on about our repairs….

Certain restaurants and plenty of other businesses are
still not open. I miss Harry’s Ace on Carrollton –
now its all about the you-know-what Depot and the
L—‘s. Sorry to see my childhood K&B torn down… we
lost our Popeyes on the corner of Canal and
Carrollton… but I hadn’t been there in a decade
anyway. Schwegmann who? (oh yeah, that had already
happened) Well, they say losses bring up past losses.

The streets seem still rather empty at times. I don’t
know what the pop. stats are of late. Some comin,
some goin, I suppose.



I hear the news telling a story of a family that just
finally got their FEMA trailer. Which makes me think
also of all those people who have not come back or not
been able to come back…. so sorry for the separation
and sadness they must feel.

As I mentioned before (year ago?) the hospice
patients/families I see still (just today!) say that
the patient became sick right after Katrina.

And despite all of the following — the apparent (?)
crime increase (so many murders lately!) – and I hear
the suicide rate is higher, the crippling heat (not
exactly Katrina related but both connected to global
warming), the pain and suffering, confusion, political
disappointments, and the fear I see in people’s eyes
who love new orleans so much and don’t want to move
away but feel it may be slipping away from them….
still there is that hope that always returns. Hope.
Determination. They know that the spirit of New
Orleans cannot die. And, of course we still have
plenty of fun here.

About that hope — since I learned recently of hope
being a way to actually keep some distance between us
and the present moment — I prefer to focus on
gratitude… For all that we have.

For example, I am glad to have had this trailer all
this time. And didn’t have to pay a penny! Lowest
electric bills ever! Takes only 10 minutes to clean!

And I’m glad to have had all the house sitting
opportunities to get away from this trailer – like the
entire summer at Diana and Maela’s.

I am thankful that many people have come to NO to help
rebuild, and SO many volunteers still coming from out
of town.

And thankful for the donations of furniture from
friends and family… just got offered a microwave
today.

I miss ya’ll friends that have moved away but
appreciate having more places to stay around the
country.

We are fortunate to have had groups of volunteers,
mostly local, come the last few weekends, (thanks to
staff from the Times Picayune!), to help us put in
insulation and hang drywall. It is amazing how they
come and offer themselves and work so hard, in
ninety-something degree heat! … and we merely offer
muffins and thank yous. One of the homes they helped
gut was damaged by fire this past weekend so we’ll be
going to join in to help them this weekend. I’m happy
to have the opportunity to help them help others.

Oh, did I mention the instulation and sheetrock was
donated through the St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church?

My neighbors have become an important part of my life
and I always look forward to seeing them. Lots of
house-talk.



And although I still have frequent thoughts of moving
away from N.O. (especially after returning from out of
town) and yearn for the days of the past or days of
the expected future, I am thankful every day to have
New Orleans as it is today… to be a part of the
rebuilding… I can appreciate the challenges the
Storm has provided and especially the lessons of
impermanence.

Well, too bad I didn’t have time and energy to write
now, eh? (Imagine if I had!) I’m sure I skipped a
lot and rambled in some areas – we still have the
katrina brain excuse here.

So, all this to say, we’re moving along at a Big Easy
pace… A lot of the city is changing and rebuilding,
just not quickly. We’ve had a few neighors move in to
their houses. (Two modular homes in the next block.)
Things like that….

Maybe next time I’ll be in my house, 9 feet in the
air…

Ya’ll come!

If you made it this far, thanks for allowing me to
share.

With love,
Jennifer

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