Monday, August 28, 2006

Preparing For The Remembrance

Tomorrow will be the one year anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina/Rita tragedy. I've been trying not to think about it too much because it's such an overwhelming idea for me. Last week I watched the first half of Spike Lee's documentary "When the Levees Broke" and wound up feeling all of those Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome symptoms that have never really gone away since the hurricane struck. Tonight I'm going to watch the second half because it was too much for me to watch the next day after seeing the first part. I've looked many books, articles, and news stories about the disaster but this is the best, most authentic one that I've seen.

The German really appreciated the fact that Lee understood that it wasn't the actual hurricanes that did the majority of the damage on the city. Instead, it was the pre-Katrina apathetic attitude of those whose job it was to 1.) be responsible for paying attention to the numerous studies that outlined what the worst-case scenarios would look like and 2.) maintaining our levee system so that even when the effects of a hurricane couldn't be avoided, the damage to the city would be minimized. It was the failure of people that caused all these deaths, not some "Act of God" that they were powerless against.

The German and I have been debating whether or not we'd bring VanGoghGirl to some of the events we'll be attending tomorrow. At first, I really wanted to take her for a couple of reasons. I'm afraid that some of the old traditions won't last through the post-Katrina transitions that are taking place. I especially wanted her to see the Jazz funeral requiem march from the Louisiana Superdome down to Congo Square tomorrow. There is nothing more unique to New Orleans than that and if it dies, then I at least want VanGoghGirl to be able to have seen them at least one more time.

There's also going to be another Jazz funeral procession later on that afternoon from the Convention Center to the Superdome that's meant to honor the local-born Leutenant General Russel Honore (if you haven't heard already, he's the one who came and put an end to that nonsense where the soldiers were pointing their guns at citizens as if those who managed to survive were the ones responsible for the hurricane in the first place) and all of the first responders who stuck with us in our time of need instead of abandoning their duties like more than 200 police officers did.

As a New Orleans firefighter, my little brother (He's technically my cousin but he moved in with my family when he got to be a teenager, so we're really close) is one of those first responders who stuck around and worked for weeks on end without a single scheduled off day. In many ways, he's never been the same since that time. I want to go to the second procession because I feel like I need to mourn the person that he used to be, the person that I worry might be gone forever.

Anyway, The German and I decided not to take VanGoghGirl with us tomorrow. For one, she'd miss school and she's really trying for perfect attendance this year. With all of the days she's missed in the past thanks to the ups and downs with my health, this would be a big accomplishment for her so I want to support her goal as much as possible. Secondly, The German feared that it might upset her too much because we really aren't sure what things will be like. By yesterday, I agreed with his concerns and we decided that we'll evaluate whether to bring her next year based how things go this time.

We're also going to an Interfaith Prayer Service at the St. Louis Cathedral down in the Vieux Carre. According to the NOLA site, "Members of 12 faiths, including Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu will participate in this service" and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra will be playing outside in the square afterwards. In between these events, we plan to ride around and take some photos of the city as it is now.

Right now, I'm trying to get myself in the right frame of mind to be able to deal with tomorrow without getting to the point where this poor guy did.


brownfemipower said...

i wish i could be down there with ya'll. my experience with katrina was more like the mother or sister who has to keep her mouth shut even though her daughter/sister keeps showing up with broken noses and black eyes. I deeply deeply love NO and especially feel in love with the treme district--i was born in NO (spiritually as a radical woc with lots of community, something i've never had before) and it was heart breaking and devistating to see my spiritual mother so to speak be beaten in such a manner. i wish i could go to a procession with you, go light a candle together--

Anonymous said...

What most people forget about the tragedy that occured in New Orleans is that only 10% - 15% was caused by Katrina. All of the flooding was caused by the Corpse of Engineers. If you want to see the damage that mother nature caused, you have to go down to Buras, LA and the Mississippi Gulf coast.