If you know me, you know I talk about New Orleans way too much. On my last visit home, I went through my old film photo albums and found a lot of my photos from the March following Hurricane Katrina. These aren't the best photos--not only are they cellphone pictures of pictures, but I had a point-and-shoot film camera, and wasn't really shooting for anything special other than my own memories. The sad part about these photos is the complete lack of people. This is broad daylight on a normal March day, and there is absolutely no one around. It's eerily empty and completely abandoned, and although all of these homes once housed people, who knows where they are or if they even survived. I did a community service project (it was required for high school) with a church in Nola to help 'gut' homes down there. Really hated that term, but it's really the only true descriptor of what we were doing. These people had built up their lives and all their belongings in these homes only to have them torn and gutted out. Here are a few of the photos I found to be most telling when I was looking through my old album.
Below is one of the scenes that I'll always be able to recall in my head. This shot is of a house next door to one of the homes we helped clear. I just remember being really sad, and thinking 'what if this was my house?'
Below is the front of that same house. It's a weird feeling to see so many abandoned homes with doors wide open and exposed to the elements. I guess you never really think about what comfort your front door provides until it's not there anymore.
It wasn't from any of these homes, but the thing I remember the most from this trip was finding a couple's wedding photograph album in a completely devastated house. So sad.
This was in a small, local graveyard. Graves were eerily 'missing' their contents all over the city.
Below, you can see the level that the water rose to in this house. This was one of the homes we worked on clearing. When we arrived, the place was a mess--their satellite dish was in their empty pool, along with a living room couch.
Yes, this is a boat on the sidewalk. Outside of a graveyard. And if you can't read the bumper sticker, it says "New Orleans, Proud to call it home."
Below are some junk piles of what we cleared.
One lesson I've learned from seeing all this firsthand? Be thankful for what you have, every day.