Twelve years to the day, we find ourselves in a tropical storm mode, watching the Houston Texas area drowning in the rainfall from Harvey (a hurricane name that will probably be retired, like Katrina).
Many things have changed since 2005: social media assures that we receive up-to-the-minute information and images via Facebook and Twitter; there are community portals, neighborhood web sites, and local discussion lists; cell phones are more prevalent than in 2005, text messaging helps people communicate and find one another; there are many more cell phone towers too. Katrina taught us what to have ready in case of a storm: nearly everyone I know in this area has a fairly new generator, needed for long periods of electricity loss.
We have learned NOT to wait for the government to come to our rescue.
The Cajun Navy was born in after Katrina to help flood victims quickly and without red tape.
We will always have the memory of fear, sadness, anger, revulsion, etc. These feelings come automatically whenever we read/see/hear about disasters. Especially hurricanes.
Watching Harvey coverage unfold is hard, it brings back memories to August of 2005. Not only in Southeast Louisiana, but also on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which took a direct hit from the storm.
The city of New Orleans, 80% which was submerged due to levee failures, is STILL being screwed over by the very people whose job it is to be sure the pumping stations are working.
Much of the city flooded on August 5th of this year due to the fact that 14 out of 24 pumping stations were not working during a strong rainstorm. Here's hoping that most of those pumps work hard this week with Harvey coming to visit.
Of course some things never change: the haters are still out there in droves, asking the same idiotic questions, putting people down for being poor, black, ethnic. People are gouging the hell out of victims. Hopefully, karma will be visiting these "people" soon.
If you've read this far and are curious about what it was like on August 29, 2005, go to this link for the now defunct Times-Picayune's coverage of the storm. Just reading a bit of it put that lump in my throat. So much suffering and no one could help.
The only "live" coverage we had for about a month after the storm was WWL radio, whose on air personalities became like family members to us.
Curious about what it was like in the early aftermath? local reporter Chris Rose penned a number of newspaper articles during the months after the storm that many Katrina veterans could identify with. The collection eventually came together in the book "One Dead In Attic".
So 12 years on a lot has changed: new buildings, new homes, new stores, new restaurants. New Orleans' streets still suck, the crime rate is still as bad as before Katrina, but the city is buzzing in many good ways. The Mississippi Gulf Coast is a great entertainment destination, and all new construction from Waveland to Ocean Springs is a must see (I still need to see some of it). Slidell, where I live is still a boring Northshore town, but I like it like that, just small enough. Every once in a while we run into people at the store or a festival and the conversation usually finds it way to "the storm". Everyone has stories of ruin and survival. There is a special kinship that has been borne between veterans of "the storm".
So I say "thanks, Katrina" in a different tone than I did 10 years ago. Thanks for all the good that has happened since we walked outside on that August afternoon and saw a whole new, scary world. I think after all we experienced, we find ourselves smarter and we possess the empathy necessary to get through life.