August 30, 2010

Katrina: Faces Of The Storm

Every year on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a wreath is thrown into the Industrial Canal from up above on the Claiborne Avenue Bridge, to remember the many who died here when the levee was catastrophically broken in the Lower Ninth Ward. Journalists and politicians may outnumber local residents, though, or at least it feels that way as it often does at public events in this country. In the brown shirt is New Orleans City Councilman Jon Johnson.

Photographer Andy Levin notes, “The interior of abandoned Carver High School in the Ninth Ward sits as it was five years previously.  Although Carver High School has been rebuilt, only a hundred of the 300 schools in New Orleans previous to Katrina have been rebuilt. There is no elementary school in either the Lower Ninth Ward, or the Florida-Desire section of the Ninth Ward.”

An all day commemoration, a block party, really, was hosted by Robert Green on Tennessee Street in the Lower Ninth Ward. Shrimp, chicken, turkey necks, corn on the cob, red beans and rice, and potato salad were served, and hundreds of people came, both local residents and visitors.

From Mario Tama, “Mourners gather during a healing ceremony at the site of the Lower Ninth Ward levee breach. The levee has since been rebuilt. Today is the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, August 29.”

My best friend in this city, Abram Himelstein who founded and runs the Neighborhood Story Project, said to me yesterday, “You have to remember that by the most conservative estimate, one in 250 New Orleaneans died during the storm. 1800 out of 450,000, that’s not insignificant.” He wanted to emphasize that lives had changed irrevocably, that the cost is individual and real, no matter how used to it we become.

And photographer Stanley Greene said last night as we were eating dinner at the end of a long day, “I’d like to say that it’s closure, after five years, but I don’t think so, because the people haven’t all come home back yet. So there can be no closure.”

–Alan Chin


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