Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Katrina - 1 Year Later

My Aunt Renee Sterling’s email regarding the 1-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.


Hurricane Katrina hit one year ago today. That's all that's been on T.V. lately and we watch and watch and watch more of it.

Last week Tom and I went to New Orleans to visit Ben and Stephanie. We had been through Lakeview not long after the hurricane but had never been to the 9th Ward or St. Bernard Parish. Saturday, Ben took us riding.

Things in New Orleans and surrounding areas are terrible. It is not only the poor black people who are still suffering. Although we didn't go through Lakeview, Stephanie told us it doesn't look any different than when we were there 9 months ago except for now having green -- the grass is growing, shrubbery, trees are green whereas before everything, everything was gray.

We rode through a very affluent area in the City Park area and almost all the homes are deserted. Some are being repaired, others are not. Miles and miles and miles, we rode for hours, as far as you could see, down every street, businesses closed -- drugstores, grocery stores, restaurants -- nothing opened. And deserted homes, mile after mile -- deserted!

Every once in a while you'd see some poor soul sitting on their front porch. Sitting. Watching. Wondering. There's still no electricity in many, many areas, no traffic lights, very little traffic. The biggest business is the hauling of debris. You pass hundreds of trucks hauling debris to the landfills in Avondale. One year and there is sadness everywhere you look. For people to say New Orleans will come back is ludicrous. The city will never, ever be the same. At the rate things are moving now, it would take 10 - 15 years, maybe more, to get everything just cleared out.

And we didn't see the mental anguish and struggles that people are going through. Stephanie told us that the day before we went they had to let their CFO go at the bank where she works. He was a very levelheaded man pre-Katrina. His home was badly damaged and is now repaired but even though, his post-Katrina mental state was terrible. He couldn't make decisions and was making serious mistakes. The bank offers counseling but even with this, it's just too soon to see positive results and changes to people whose lives have been affected so drastically. Losing his job certainly won't help his situation but business-wise, they had no other choice.

People can point fingers all they want. The blame can be placed with the president, the governor, the mayor, the police, the blacks, the whites, the poor, the rich, the government, the Corps of Engineers, FEMA -- it won't change a thing. It was a tragic, horrible storm, an act of God, something that we'll never understand in this life, something you cannot possibly fathom until you see it for yourself. And then still you wonder why -- how -- when -- what?

My prayer is that God will hold these people in the palm of His hand and gently, gently press them to His heart until they can adjust to a life they never imagined would be turned into what it is now, thanks to a lady named Katrina.


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