We are a different people now than we were a year ago. Sure, except for a few Katrina pounds and hair spots that are graying or thinning, we still look pretty much the same. We still believe that this can be the breakout season for the Saints; still relish a dripping poor boy; still know that to speak of “sucking the heads” is not a profanity; still believe that, despite its challenges, this wacky city is special.
Those challenges, however, have pushed us further than citizens of any American city have ever experienced. Some of us are hardened by the experience, others are now more fragile because of it, either way we are different. We’ve seen the horror of our city unraveling; we sat before television screens watching events get worse with each passing hour. At first we could not avoid watching the madness; than we could not stand seeing anymore.
SPEAKING OUTWe have felt the claustrophobic crush of life closing in on us; our homes, our jobs, our families, our friends, our future.
In trying to get what we are owed, we have walked the treacherous trail and found it lined with dragons: “1-800- … If you want customer service please press 2 … Your call may be monitored to assure quality … We are currently experiencing a backlog off calls please hang on … I am sorry you need to be talking to our claims department instead … to assure quality … we are currently experiencing … I am sorry the claims department is closed for the day.”
Then there are the adjusters: “He can’t come until when?!” And the very worse: “Is that all we get?!”
We’ve seen priceless personal items reduced to slime; we’ve been haunted by the moldy stench.
We have craved political leadership but have been insulted by the mayor.
We have seen violence, looting and corruption, but we have also witnessed compassion, humanity and generosity.
We have seen green grass break through the soil once though to be hopelessly contaminated. Fallen trees have opened up new light. The foreboding silence created by the absence of nature and people is now filled with the hum of life. There is chirping again: The birds have returned.
Parts of our area are now quite livable; parts remain devastated. Our moods are like our neighborhoods, moving from good to bad, upbeat to down.
We now begin the Year 2 After Katrina. There are many obstacles ahead yet there is sufficient reason to believe in the future. More than any other Americans we are up to the task because we are battle experienced. We are a different people.