My story is about gratitude. It’s about the extraordinary humans who stayed behind. Those neighborhood leaders, who together with the community around them, solved problems daily as they rebuilt New Orleans from the ground up. Those local heroes, who, when were left to fend for themselves, unselfishly stepped up and started doing for the greater good.
I was living in New Orleans in 2005. My house didn’t flood. I was a part of the isle of denial, the part of the City that didn’t take on water. The storm arrived, and a breach in the levees caused this fishbowl we call New Orleans to be submerged, with some neighborhoods like Lakeview + Broadmoor, taking on 12 plus feet of water. Some challenged if the City should be rebuilt. Some said, we shouldn’t have Mardi Gras…c’mon really?
I evacuated to Houston with my Mom, and our three dogs. We lived in a hotel room for the next month, ordering room service with our faces glued to CNN, safely watching the events unfold in the aftermath of the storm from a few hundred miles away. I felt helpless, terrified, anxious, devastated…and I was one of the lucky ones. In March 2006, I relocated to Atlanta.
The past ten years have brought this City great urban + environmental progress. But I am most grateful for those who chose to foster community, like Virginia Saussy who penned Broadmoor Lives, through culture + creativity. Those, who when challenged about whether the City should be rebuilt, reminded the world who we are as New Orleanians. Why we laugh and celebrate, even in the face of tragedy. It is because of our culture + community that we have such a special place to call home. Thank you for carrying the torch for those, like myself, who didn’t know how to help.
I returned to New Orleans in 2011, and moved into a little house across the street from a cemetery. I walk my dogs every day to a lone patch of grass in that cemetery. While they run around and play, I stand inspired by the resilience of our community and the chance I have been given to reconnect with the City where I was born; to grow, re-invent and be apart of building a new, New Orleans.
– Catherine Todd #MyX