“Everybody here has a story. New Orleans was always a place where people talked too much even if they had nothing to say.
Now everyone’s got something to say.”
― Chris Rose, 1 Dead in Attic: Post-Katrina Stories
Still standing after 10 years. I first stood in front of this house 2006.
On August 16 of this year I sent out the following plea to a large group of young people who were involved with the recovery and rebuilding efforts from the Summer of 2006 through the Summer of 2010.
I will share some of their reflections over the next few weeks and consider the TEN YEAR AFTERMATH of HURRICANE KATRINA.
Dear Katrina Builders and loved ones.
August 29 is the TEN-YEAR-AFTER-MARKER for the event that brought us together.
A moment in time that made us stronger as one heart and one mind. The subsequent events changed us forever after.
Today I have an urgent request. I need your remembrance and your will and your time.
Please write me your remembrance of your contribution and your hearts investment in the rebuilding effort in New Orleans. Ten years after how are you affected?
Let me know if you have the will to still effect a change.
Give me a bit of your time to send this to me. Tell me if you want to invest more of your time for change in our world today and tomorrow.
Grace and Peace be to unto You..
“I am never at ease with the knowledge that we could never do enough to put their lives right.”
An excerpt from Jeff sent on August 20..
I will never forget the time I spent in New Orleans, from the first muggy moment we set foot outside the airport to the last Thanksgiving that we spent there with Sister Maura and Miss Ora. I am equally haunted by the joys and the pains that I shared with the women we helped and with the other students as we realized the smallness of our position. I am never at ease with the knowledge that we could never do enough to put their lives right.
Working and living in New Orleans left a hole in me that I’m not sure I’ll ever fill. For the first time in my life, I was in direct conflict with the world in front of me. I was working on problems with no solutions; patching drywall on disasters that stemmed from systematic racism and rooted in hate. I had to confront my own frailty in the face of a crumbling house, and my own singleness in a system that would willfully exclude loving and generous people from its benefits.
I don’t know what I can do to help—and I’m certainly not as idealistic about it as I was when I was 16—but everything I do now hinges on developing a position and voice to address those individuals directly and to let them know that they’re loved, and that we acknowledge and love them as our own.
I’m stuck as a man with limited power, facing challenges that transcend any situation or place. But I know now that if I’m not using my personhood to raise as many people as possible, then I am failing my mission as a human and my calling from God—whomever or whatever that may be.
There is no humanity without recognizing that every person in the world is more similar to you than they could ever be different. There’s no looking at another person without seeing a shade of yourself there.
I’m haunted, Michael, and that will drive me forward for my entire life.
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
God’s Peace, Jeff.
“I called out for help.. ya’ll came to my door.“
By dawn the following day I was remembering my friends down home in the south. I was certain that they were okay because they had the resources to be.
That was the morning of August 30th on Monday.
I was just as certain – as I watched with the rest of the world – that there were so very many folks who were not safe. They were never safe. They had been forgotten without resources before.
It was only the first day after and Katrina had merely begun to wipe away the muck on the glass so all could see the truth.
End Day One
Miss Ora passed 2012…
Although I was able to go to New Orleans only one of the summers (2007) that we sent a mission trip there, my memories of the devastation there (but also the spirit of hope and optimisim coexisting with it) will always live with me. Peace, Monty