Her Winds Still Blow
“You can take the people out of the city, but you can’t take the soul — that remains here.”
― T.J. Fisher, Orleans Embrace with The Secret Gardens of the Vieux Carré
As the official opening day of hurricane season June 1st every year, I can’t help but to remember the wide path of destruction left by Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005. Anyone who went through that storm, no matter the location has my deepest sympathies. I also went through that storm and not a day goes by that I don’t remember how scared and awestruck I was at the devastation. Last night I was awakened by a horrible nightmare complete with an ass kicking migraine. I woke up with nausea and last night’s meal gurgling in my stomach. I was also chilled by the sweat on my brow and clothing attempting to dry.
I couldn’t help that I had just had a nightmare, but the vividness of the dream was one that startled me. Hurricane Katrina happened before Mel and I met. I was still married to my ex-husband at the time. And I also can remember my nannie still being her good ole grouchy self. We had a gas grill and each other and that was about all we needed unless you counted the need for air-conditioning. I’m a spoiled kid of the 1980’s and I grew up with air conditioning and desperately need it when it’s hot. People including my mother were sleeping in the beds of pickup trucks rather than in the house because you stuck to everything because of the heat. I slept on the hot wooden floor in the dining room and my 85 years old grandmother and would’ve been sleeping in Heaven with Jesus sooner had it been left up to my mom. My grandmother was being a pill, and everyone heard her. She And her chihuahua were soon taken to a friend who made sure she got in the air conditioning and away from us for a while. Meanwhile for the first few days everyone was eating out of each other’s freezers as the defrosting led to some good eating.
There were 5 big trees on my parent’s house that were casualties of the storm. Water and sewage were a thing of the past. Gas was being rationed. And how the Mississippi Gulf Coast and New Orleans, Louisiana was doing was a mystery. It was the time when hardship let to sitting under the carport at night with sweat running down the side of our heads and swatting mosquitos and laughing to keep from crying. We knew the devastation in our neighborhood and town and that was all.
What we did learn through all of this was how to help our neighbors. When anyone mentions pulling together resources for something the time when Katrina hit the southern United States always comes to mind. I eventually got to see the hardcore destruction firsthand when I was helping to publish a book by doing some photography from the destruction. But emotionally I was affected in ways that even I don’t know. Exactly 14 years ago today Hurricane Katrina would change life for many people including myself. Because being awaken by a nightmare and a migraine let’s me know that her winds still blow.
“Life is a hurricane, and we board up to save what we can and bow low to the earth to crouch in that small space above the dirt where the wind will not reach.”
–Jesmyn Ward, Men We Reaped