After surviving the storm, and no worse for the wear, we awoke the next morning to sunny skies but very cold and windy. Definitely no time outside on the decks or by the pool. In fact, the pool had been drained the night before during the storm and was not filled up again. After breakfast, we met up with our new friends and spent a couple of hours playing cards, pinochle to be exact, and just visiting. The rest of the day was very relaxed, as our ship sailed back to port in America. We had a nice dinner that evening and went to the last show of the week. Our luggage was picked up that evening, and would be waiting for us in customs when we left the ship.
The next morning, we were off the boat by 9:00. We had scheduled one last tour of the French Quarter and hurricane devastated New Orleans. I am really glad that we went on this tour. It was the weekend after The Saints had won the Super Bowl and 2 days before Mardi Gras ended. People were everywhere. The colorful Mardi Gras necklaces were strewn everywhere. First we went through the French Quarter. I was amazed at the rich history of New Orleans. I guess I had forgot all of it from my early school days. We stopped at a cemetery. But the uniqueness of this cemetery was that all the graves were above the ground. Many many years ago, they had problems with the coffins floating in the rivers when the waters would cover the cemetery grounds. So they started building tombs above ground, and out the bodies inside the concrete and marble tombs. Next we went through some of the neighborhoods that had been completely devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Many houses were still empty, the families have never returned. Those homes still had the marks from the search and rescue teams that went through each house. The name of the team, the date, the number alive and the number dead that was found. Many of these dates on these houses were months after the hurricane had actually hit. And then there were the lots that just had grass growing on them. There was once a house, but the destruction had been so bad that everything had been plowed down and just grass left. We drove past houses that still had the water marks where the water had come up. And then we saw the new houses. Many people have donated materials and time to try and help rebuild these neighborhoods so that the families can come home.
I was very grieved by what I saw and heard on the tour. We had watched the hurricane on the news and read about it over the months following, but never had I really comprehended the mass destruction that happened. The families that were completely tore apart and lost everything. I guess for me, it’s like going to a third world country. We know that they are poor. We know they have little and yet still survive. But to go and spend time with these people. To laugh and cry with them, to be able to help them in any way I can, now that’s making it real in my mind. Understanding what they go through and live on a day to day basis.
So as we comfortably sat on the tour bus, listening to story after story of Hurricane Katrina, I snapped as many pictures as I could. I wanted to remember what I had seen. I wanted to come home and share with my children these stories and pictures of grief and suffering. Because we have so much.
Empty lots where there was once a house.
A family still living in a FEMA trailer in front of their house that has not yet been repaired.
Not a street I would recommend buying a house on.
Cars left from the hurricane.
This house still had the water lines on it.
A bomb shelter from the 70’s. The only one built by the city. But only enough room for the mayor and his family and close friends. Hmmm.
The pumps that failed and caused the flooding. Why? Everybody left because of the evacuations. And then the power went out. If the pumps had come on, much of the devastation would have been avoided.
A pile of Mardi Gras necklaces outside the airport.