Family ties brought Hurricane Katrina survivors to Kansas City

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A Decade After Katrina, New Orleans Is Partying Again, and Still Rebuilding.

Like many who fled Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago this weekend, leaving New Orleans one step ahead of the floodwaters, she expected to be back home in a few days. The city, which was left 80 percent underwater in 2005 due to its failing levee system, held a series of events, including lectures and tours, leading up to Saturday’s anniversary. Ten years ago to the day, the Hendersons’ house on Amelia Street was flooded by six and a half feet of water, and Carl Henderson sat in a friend’s place and watched bodies float through town. Head of the household Felicia Williams said while singing a tune, “One thing about Louisiana, you always had something to do, sometimes you could sit on your porch, all the sudden you hear some music..[singing] – coming down was the second line.” Her daughter Deinara Carter said, “It was dark, and she was just packing a bunch of stuff, just throwing it in a suitcase, and I was like what’s going on and she said were leaving.” “It was a very hurtful thing, watching the news, and we started crying, just thinking about it still brings tears to my eyes”, Williams said.

Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters The sun rises in front of the re-constructed levee wall along the Industrial Canal in the Lower Ninth Ward on August 29, 2015 in New Orleans. Williams said, “You never think that something like that would happen, it would take you from your home, where you knew.” But Felicia and her daughter found a new home in Louisville, and after three years in the city, the new home took on a new meaning. More than a thousand died, more than a million homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed, and a mass exodus took place — a period of exile that for many has not ended. But before they do, they plan to go back to the place they hold so dear to their heart. “There’s just something about New Orleans that you know, you feel the soul there”, Carter said.

Multiple parades took place, including a hundreds-strong second line parade, as the tradition is called here, featuring wave after wave of brass bands and dancing clubs. The Red Cross counted about 500 families that it worked with in the weeks after the hurricane, said Ken Cope, who was the director of emergency services for the Red Cross in Kansas City and is now retired. “All of them that came here pretty much came here because they had families or some kinds of resources where they could stay,” Cope said. “People who were this far inland at least had someone to connect with.” For weeks after Katrina, the Gregg/Klice Community Center near 18th Street and the Paseo became a full-service center for displaced people, with nonprofits large and small offering various services. Bernard public housing project, until a family rowed by with a boat. “That’s just how people reunite after something really sad, to celebrate a tragedy.” The marquee event was in the early evening at the Smoothie King Center, the city’s professional basketball arena, where national political figures spoke, Mardi Gras Indians chanted, musicians sang and religious leaders prayed. Former President Bill Clinton — the third president to visit New Orleans in three days — recalled coming here as a 3-year-old, the first city he had ever visited, and later as a 15-year-old aspiring jazz musician.

In brief comments, he urged the city to celebrate the accomplishments of the past 10 years but not to ignore the profound racial and economic disparities that remain. It has been a week of art exhibits, dinners, panels and lectures — a week of extended discussions about what the last 10 years have been about, without arriving at any real consensus. There have been city-sanctioned talks about the recovery as “a model for urban America” and summit meetings about “the capitalist crimes inflicted on New Orleans’s working class.” The official anniversary commemoration had its own logo, its own color scheme and its own ubiquitous buzzword: resilience. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (L) and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu carry a flower arrangement as they lay a wreath during an event to remember the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina at the New Orleans Katrina Memorial Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images Yet playing underneath it all was the counterpoint of shootings, the unchanging routine of workers in the low-wage tourist economy and the occasional outbursts of raw grief from those reminded of the worst period of their lives. “I think a lot of people have been kind of hunkering down and feeling ambivalent at best,” said Justin Wolfe, a history professor at Tulane University here. “It feels like we’re this spectacle, and yet in all that spectacle, the horror of so much of what happened, the tribulation but also how many people ended up on the wrong side of that story, that gets lost.” Still, an aversion to the onslaught of attention from the news media was mixed with a gratitude that so many people still feel invested in this city.

More than 100 volunteers have worked at the Henderson house over the last few weeks, doing in that time what had not been done in 10 years of inadequate government disaster assistance, contractor fraud, break-ins and continuing bureaucratic nightmares. “It’s not a celebration — it’s a headache,” Roberta Henderson said of the day’s significance, describing the litany of stress-induced health problems that her husband, Carl, has endured since the first days after the flood. “Many people wouldn’t have lasted through this. It concluded with this clarification: “Please note that although this parade falls on Aug. 29, it is not an event commemorating the anniversary of Katrina.”

Last month, Peacock saw her son, Justin, married to an Olathe woman in a ceremony brightened by an old-fashioned New Orleans second-line parade, with decorative umbrellas and jazz. And while Peacock still does not enjoy the snow here, she appreciates the safety and security she has found. “Most definitely,” Peacock said. “It’s my vacation destination now, whenever I need some good crawfish.

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