Posted by: Katy | June 3, 2008

Full Circle

When the natural disaster that was Katrina hit and led to the manmade disaster that was the breaking of levees improperly constructed by a federal government we trusted, I watched a large scale tragedy unfold in my city.  I also witnessed personal tragedy.  My aunt (who is also my godmother and like a second mother to me) remained at the hospital where she works throughout Katrina and its aftermath.  Hers was the last hospital that remained to take in patients after the flood waters rose.  She courageously maintained her calm and served as an example to and leader of her staff even as the world around them erupted into chaos.  Even as she KNEW that her home in Lakeview, an area of the city hit particularly hard by the levee failure, was under water.  It sat under water for weeks and weeks.  After things had calmed down and she managed to get some time out of the hospital, she took a boat ride (yes, a BOAT ride) to view what remained of her home.  My family and I donned masks, vapo-rub, tennis shoes that could be thrown away, and gloves and went in once the water receded.  The force of the water had moved the refrigerator and turned it upside down.  The sofa had collided with the living room wall.  Things were scattered everywhere, in places you never thought they’d be.  So many things had rotted or smashed to bits.  I never knew how many different kinds of mold there are.  It was like entering a loaf of bread that had sat out for a year.  You were surrounded by it on every surface.  The floor was covered with mold and mud and whatever else the lake water brought in.  Did I mention the smell?  Oh, the smell!  I won’t go there.  We salvaged what we could.  Digging my gloved hands through the mud and muck on the rotting floor, I discovered my aunt’s high school graduation ring.  Other odd finds—the untouched attic had all the Christmas decorations intact.  Of course, my aunt no longer had a home to decorate for Christmas, so these remnants were more a depressing reminder than any kind of consolation.  She has spent nearly three years in two different rental apartments, struggling to find some peace, make plans to rebuild, etc.  They had to bulldoze the shell that once was her house, then fight with every organization and bureaucratic official obsessed with red tape in this city, state, and nation.  It was a really long road.  She wound up selecting a modular home ( you wouldn’t know it was “modular” when you saw it, it’s really nice).  After additional struggles with contractors, Home Depot, and the Sewerage and Water Board, moving day has finally arrived.  My aunt moves into her new home today.  Finally.  The joy she feels is palpable. 

Here are some pictures from the time the home was delivered and placed on the lot.

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