I'm currently watching the weather channel - something I learned to do in the Gulf area of Texas. They are, of course, remembering Katrina.
Nick, my husband, worked for Harrahs in 2005. He was called to the Gulf about a week after she hit. He had to go to Gulfport and Biloxi and establish - or re-establish security. Casino barges were in the middle of the highways and blown onto other barges. The larger hotel casinos were destroyed in Mississippi. He also spent some time in Louisiana. He said he could be gone as long as a week - he was gone a month.
The employees dispatched to help, lived in trailers - they had water - but not heated. Cell availability was limited and splotchy. In addition to plowing through parking towers to determine whether or not cars had people in them, they were required to go to every casino and remove the slot machines, and bags of money from the vaults.
It was a mess...and stayed a mess. It was two weeks before they had hot water, and fairly regular phone service. Just about the time they started making headways, Rita hit.
You don't hear much about Gulfport or Biloxi. They were hard hit by Katrina too, but they weren't on the receiving end of the "no decisions made" government.
I have a difficult time even viewing the photo-journalist account of the travesty that happened in Louisiana.
One year later, Nick had to go back to continue training the security officers, and I went with him. We visited the Ninth Ward. It was a full year later; it was a year after government aid; it was a year after funds were dispersed to rebuild. It looked as if the hurricane happened that week. The tell tale sign that it had been a year was the 6 foot weeds/grass growing through the cars that were parked in front yards, and driveways, some still upside down.
I'll never forget seeing an old man mowing his lawn with a push mower, and behind him his house (one year later) had no roof and a gaping hole in the side of the house.
We drove down a street in what looked like it might have been a middle-class neighborhood at one time. A vacant house, without windows and the door way, without a door, was visible behind shrubs and weeds about five feet high. I told Nick I wanted to get out and look in. Walking through weeds, rocks, toys, and boxes, a sense of heaviness settled over me. I peered in. It looked as if someone had pitched a room full of furniture into the room, and all was covered in mud. Ceilings fallen in, chandeliers still attached, and a framed picture that once graced the dark moldy walls was half visible behind the topsy turvy chair. Obviously the family left, and never returned.
My most poignant memory was on another street in the Ninth Ward. A white, two-story house with a proud columns and a pitched roof. The water line clear and visible almost to the second story. A youngish woman was sitting on the front steps, her sleeveless shirt almost irresdescent against her dark skin, resting her chin in her right hand, her left arm clasped about her knees as if forcing herself to keep from running away. She was staring into a place I couldn’t see. I wondered why she looked so sad. It seemed like a lovely house...till we rounded the corner and saw the back half of the house was gone, a blue tarp replacing part of the missing roof. This was probably her dream house. Now it was a nightmare.
A year later. A lifetime later. The streets are dry, but the tears aren't.
In the French Quarter it was different. I wrote "Remembering New Orleans" at that time. Frightening desperation, the glass perpetually half empty, and seemingly leaking… less than five miles away from dancing in the plaza.