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A Decade Later

I think: this time, I’m here, I’m swimming,

I’m coming back to shore, I’ll see my friends

Who weathered the storm, went under, resurfaced.

Knew what it meant.

Memories from Hurricane Katrina

This weekend my family and I drove to New Orleans for our last weekend away before the semester kicks into full swing. We make this trip quite often, as the “crescent city” is not far from our home. This most recent weekend trip, however, held a different significance for me. It felt strange somehow. I think it is because this coming week is the tenth anniversary of Katrina.

Every time we drive to New Orleans from our home in South Mississippi, we are aware of the remnants of Katrina. The houses that were not rebuilt. The areas that remain abandoned and economically depressed. But it is easy to drive through these areas and forget about them once we enter the Disneyfied French Quarter. My husband took our daughters to a Saints game in the Superdome—the same Superdome that housed the estimated 30,000 individuals who did not evacuate and were left in squalor for days. I wonder if my daughters know what happened there. I do not think they do, nor do I think they would completely grasp the situation if I explained it.

My oldest daughter turned one the weekend Katrina pummeled the gulf coast. We had her birthday celebration at my parents’ home in Biloxi, Mississippi. We drove back home that Saturday after the party and decided that we would evacuate. I was still nursing our daughter and according to the news we might lose power for two days. I was not excited about the thought of nursing this child in the sweltering heat of August—even if for only two days. We left to stay with friends in Tupelo that day, and my parents chose to evacuate to Mobile, Alabama to stay with my sister.

My parents lost most of their possessions on August 29th when the storm surge flooded their home and washed their neighbors into my parents’ living room. The neighbors rode out the storm sitting on my parents’ kitchen counter and drinking the bottled coca-colas left over from our daughter’s party. My husband, daughter, and I were able to return to our home in south Mississippi a little less than two weeks later. We had only minor damage. We had friends across the coast who lost everything.

My daughter turns eleven this coming week. We are having her party in New Orleans on the anniversary of Katrina’s landfall. I am not sure how to feel about this coincidence. If all goes as planned, my youngest daughter will receive her first dose of KRN-23 the day prior. Consequently, it will be a weekend comprised of old and new. A weekend of celebration and hope. A weekend of sweet memories and a weekend of sadness. We no longer have pictures of my childhood birthday parties. They were washed away. I will live vicariously through my daughters, I suppose. And I will remind them that pictures can be washed away so they must make memories that remain with them forever.


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