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."