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And Now The Harsh Reality Sets In

I don't know why- maybe the cell phones are just starting to work better or maybe people are getting that "I want to be home" feeling- but my phone has been ringing off the hook with people from home. It ain't good.

In the last 18 hours, I've literally lost count (at about a dozen) of how many people who I heard lost everything. The levees in my section of town held. I was lucky. Very, very lucky.

Some of my best friends were scattered by Katrina's winds just as were their possessions. California, Philadelphia, Green Bay WS, Atlanta, New York City and probably a few other places I've forgotten but where no self-respecting New Orleanian belongs. A first cousin is coming home to clean up his home while his wife and 2 children stay behind in Philadelphia for a year. A year of his daughters' lives he'll never get back.

I have a friend who took a 6 month lease in Atlanta, she didn't have the heart to tell me but I've heard from several people that she knows she'll never be back. 9 feet of water.

Another friend of mine plays for the New Orleans Hornets - 4 feet of water and a foot of sludge.

The list goes on and on and on and on.

New Orleans is internationally known for its oak trees. In fact a few years age we were named the "Greenest City in the North America" (or some such) Now every bush, shrub and blade of grass is dead for dozens of square miles. We will probably lose in excess of 3000 oak trees just in the city proper. A friend went back to St. Bernard Parish (county for you Yankees) and he said there is not a tree standing in the whole parish.

The pictures on television are horrific... But they can never tell the human side of the story. Families washed away along with their homes and their dreams. Friends who said good-bye on a Friday afternoon who will now never see each other again. And -perhaps most telling of all- near universally, these are the people who consider themselves among "The Lucky."


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Comments (11)

Hmmmm.The Diaspora... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

The Diaspora of New Orleans?

Frankly I think most of the former residents of New Orleans will never return. Or if they do, it'll be as tourists.

Not that we got hit as hard... (Below threshold)
doug:

Not that we got hit as hard as the people of New Orleans, but the city of Winter park, FL (near Orlando) lost around 8,000 oak trees last year in hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Jeanne. Many of these trees were over 100 years old. A private group has establish a fund to buy new trees (see http://www.winterparkliveoakfund.org/introduction.php) and they have already started planning the new trees. Maybe the folks in New Orleans could do something similar.

doug:I live in downt... (Below threshold)

doug:
I live in downtown Orlando, and the biggest lesson I learned was that laurel oaks and live oaks break differently in hurricane winds.

Live oaks fall over. Laurel oaks *shatter*. And neither of them are good for areas that get hurricanes. Large trees with wide canopies and shallow root systems are a bad, bad choice for sandy Florida ground.

It's really interesting, standing next to the trunk of a tree that's got a trunk thicker than I am tall, that got pulled out of the ground like a weed...

<a href="http://solomon2.bl... (Below threshold)
I used the word diaspora im... (Below threshold)
Jay:

I used the word diaspora immediately after the flood.

It's one of those seismic cultural events that will change things profoundly going forward,but which can't be predicted; the stuff of fiction, the stuff of "what if" history scenarios. Fascinating, at the same time sad for those living it closely.

I'm glad for you, Paul, but... (Below threshold)
-S-:

I'm glad for you, Paul, but equally saddened about so many others.

I think about Pompeii and Herculaneum and just look where they perched those beautiful homes and for so long, concluding Mount Vesuvius would never erupt.

Point being that with some risks, all it takes is that once-in-a-lifetime/millenium event to make it reasonable, if not very prudent, to live elsewhere.

Just to make sure we don't ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Just to make sure we don't forget how much was lost we should start using the name hurricane Katrillion.

Diaspora is an excellent te... (Below threshold)
Toby928:

Diaspora is an excellent term. Like the Jews of old, the people of NO will bring the good things of their culture with them. Its already bearing fruit here in Lower Alabama. My youngest has been able to jam with a mondo jazz drummer who is sheltering here. So far he likes it here (despite the relative lack difficulty in obtaining drugs in our small town ;-) and may not return after the cleanup. Several other musical refugees are really 'jazzing' up the local scene.

Tob

I've been saying fro the st... (Below threshold)

I've been saying fro the start that this is going to improve food & music all across the country.

Hmmmm."I've been s... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

"I've been saying fro the start that this is going to improve food & music all across the country."

Sorry but the only thing that could possibly do that would be a rain of kimchee across the nation.

hehe :)

Paul, I'm glad you made it ... (Below threshold)

Paul, I'm glad you made it through okay. We got back home several days ago and I've gotten pretty handy with my newest toy - a chainsaw! Don't lose hope for the city; I know some people won't come back - I'm losing a lot of friends to other cities too - but as things come back together, I think many will reconsider. Things are coming back together faster than most people predicted, and I think we'll pick up momentum and be functioning pretty soon. When people see that, they'll come home to New Orleans.




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