People Get Ready

[ make levees, not war ]

Happy Thanksgiving

Posted by schroeder915 on November 24, 2005

Something to be thankful for?

Consider a story a chaplain told me about one elderly man who stayed through Hurricane Katrina. He had survived hurricanes before, and in any event, he had never left the city for any reason. He didn’t know where to go, or if he could afford to leave. As he slept, water rose inside his house. He woke up. When he put his feet on the floor, the water was up to his knees. When he made to the bathroom, the water was up to his hips. By the time he made it to the attic, the water was up around his shoulders. When he broke out of the attic, the entire house was forced off of its foundation, only stopping when it ran into a tree. There he remained, on his roof, dodging debris, for a day and a half. I was told that storm surge up the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet was applying so much pressure that water was blasting out of the levee breach at 12 feet per second. Having seen the devastation, having seen a wasteland of houses, crumpled and reduced to splinters, I can believe that the force of water must have been phenomenal, overwhelming many residents who survived the hurricane but not the flooding.

Something to be thankful for?

Consider the hundreds of thousands of New Orleans and Gulf Coast residents who have remained exiled, homeless, and jobless, for three months. How are they spending their Thanksgiving?

The Mrs. and I are thankful that we survived the storm, and that we have a home that barely made it through the flooding. We are grateful that we still have jobs. We are grateful that we can feel a sense of guilt for being spared when hundreds of thousands of our fellow residents were not.

This is also the year when I think it should be said that I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to live in New Orleans. For all of the very real pain and grief it has caused me — a sort of right of passage I think — it has also filled my senses and stirred my imagination. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the city. There’s so much to get frustrated about, but there’s also so much to like. Hurricane Katrina really made me think hard about my feelings for the city, and the conclusion? I love this city! And I love the people in it! I love the neighborhoods, the food, the restaurants, the mix of culture, the music, Carnival season, the parks, the spectacular light.

This Thanksgiving, I know it’s impossible to ask, but truly hope that all New Orleanians, all Louisianians, all Gulf Coast evacuees, have a warm place to lay their heads, and warm food, lovingly prepared, to fill their bellies.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thinking about my love for New Orleans, here are a couple more variants on the “New Orleans: Proud to call it home” bumper stickers, a sticker promoting “America’s Wetland,” a vital campaign to restore Louisiana’s marshes and coast, and the city’s “I Care” campaign bumper sticker.

Finally, on the back of my pickup:

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