The following comes from Todd the Wonderful, or Todd the Fairly Amazing, aka, Todd Lowe . (I did ask him for preferences on how he wanted to be credited) The Lowe family live in New Orleans, and weathered Katrina and the aftermath. Todd is now a stay at home dad of 3 glorious children, 6, 4, and 3 years old who have been homeschooled for 6, 4, and 3 years respectively. He is a self taught computer geek and before The Storm, owned an internet cafe, but since then, his wife works as a bartender and he’s Mr. Mom. He also writes.
Life today is very different than it was in August.
In August, my kids’ big concern would be if we could go to the playground, or perhaps walk down to the French Quarter and go to the Aquarium. Maybe we could talk about history or commerce on the Mississippi River, and then go see the places that we were reading about in our books. Maybe we could go out to City Park and check out the bugs and little minnows and turtles in the pond and feed the ducks or read a book under a tree. Or maybe, we could stay at the house and cook up some Creole concoction that we had to go to three different specialty stores to find the goofy ingredients we needed, though the owners would not think of them that way.
"Specialty? What you mean cher, dis is de only food dere is!"
The sweltering heat and humidity of this town that we love so much was, as it is for most of the year, beating down on us, and every afternoon we were guaranteed to hear the kid who lives down the street hacking away on his trumpet playing the same little riff over and over till we thought our heads would pop right off.
Today, in February, we wonder if they will come pick up the new trash pile we have made this week. The pile grows and shrinks as load after load of our lives is dumped on the street and then, every week or two the glorious day comes and the clean-up guys come to our street. It reminds me of when the ice cream truck used to go by before The Storm, except that, when I hear the first notes of that beloved tune ‘BEEP-BEEP-BEEP’ as the trucks back in to place, I am far more excited than the kids ever were. The bobcats roll up and, *scoop*, there goes another chunk of our life into the back of a truck that some sub-sub-sub-sub-contractor fills every day with all the piles from our lives.
Now we are in ‘Recovery’. Not from drugs or alcohol, but from Katrina or The Storm as a lot of the locals here call it. When you see someone you haven’t seen since before The Storm, the question you ask isn’t ‘How are you doing?’ but ‘How did you do?’ We all know how you are doing now.
One of the biggest draws of this city to me has always been its eccentricity. The people on the street you would meet were just a little bit different. Laissez les bon temps roule! Let the good times roll! Life is to be cherished and enjoyed. What other place has a party when someone dies celebrating their life, not morning their passing. The music in this town and the food and the culture were completely unique.
But now, we are in ‘Recovery’. So instead we will be cleaning up the wreckage from The Storm, or fighting with an insurance agent that no matter what you say, is just not going to help you to get that insurance check you are owed.
Once a week we meet up with our homeschool group and pretend it’s still August. Last week our project was making Mardi Gras floats out of shoe boxes (an old New Orleans tradition). We did that last year too, and for a couple of hours it even felt normal, until the guys who are rewiring the entire phone system 5 months after The Storm showed up in the driveway asking who a car belonged to that they needed moved. Life here is far from normal, and it doesn’t look like it will be getting back to normal any time soon.
Though the President said yet again that our levy system will be rebuilt ‘bigger and stronger’, that isn’t happening. The holes are being patched up, but the rest of it isn’t even being touched, even though they now know that none of the floodwalls were built correctly by the Army Corps of Engineers in the first place. We never had the Category 3 protection Congress mandated when the system was designed. The Mississippi River Gulf Outlet that caused the devastation in the 9th ward, New Orleans East and St Bernard Parish is still open and mostly unused and apparently more important than the people who live around it and the wetlands that are already long gone because of it.
There still isn’t enough housing for our residents to come home, and FEMA is still dragging their feet on getting trailers set up for those lucky enough to have a place to put one.
Our utilities are mostly a patchwork of rubber bands and duct tape, but the Federal Government that gave ConEd $250 million dollars after 9/11 to help rebuild a few blocks of New York’s power grid won’t give a penny to help rebuild our entire system.
My city is a very different place now and to us it seems that no one cares. If they did they would certainly be contacting their representatives and demanding that the Federal Government do the right thing, the thing we are owed after all the damage that has been done to our coast in the name of cheap gas and consumer goods.
I wonder how that kid is doing on his trumpet. He had been getting a lot better in the couple years I had lived on this side of town. I sure do miss him.