"Let's go out and get a hurricane."
The invitation knocked the wind out of me. "Let's not, I said. "I still have quite a headache from that last one."
After everything that had happened, did she really think we could just pick up where we'd left off? Was she that resilient? I muddled it over for a while. If she was ready to rebuild everything we'd had before, I guessed I was, too.
"Okay," I said. "But this is a little bit out of the blue. I'll need some time to get cleaned up."
"Take all the time you need," she said. " I'm not going anywhere."
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$20 from each sale of "Let's Go Out and Get a Hurricane" will be donated to Louisiana ArtWorks.
Many New Orleans artists lost their studios and even their artwork in the flooding after Hurricane Katrina. Louisiana ArtWorks houses much-needed gallery and studio space for local artists. To learn more, please visit Louisiana ArtWorks..org
IF YOU DO NOT LIVE IN OR HAVE NOT VISITED THE AREAS AFFECTED BY HURRICANE KATRINA, SOME OF THE ELEMENTS IN THIS WORK MAY REQUIRE EXPLANATION—
- Homes and buildings in the flooded areas had dirty water lines that indicated the level of the high water. The scariest of these actually had no high water line at all; those were cases where the level of the water was higher than the roof.
- Following the hurricane, inspectors from the Army Corps of Engineers assessed each house, and, if there was roof damage, left a form stapled to the front door indicating that the house had been approved to receive an emergency blue roof, i.e., a blue plastic tarp.
- Black mold formed everywhere, even in places that were seemingly unaffected by flooding or water damage. Black mold is exceedingly toxic, particularly for anyone with respiratory problems. New Orleans is a humid, humid city, so the mold will never completely go away, especially in areas that are inaccessible for cleaning, like the insides of walls.
- In the months following the storm, shops and restaurants could no longer rely on their own colorfully distinctive storefront signs to attract customers. After all, everyone had a sign, whether they were open for business or were still in the process of reconstruction or had simply abandoned ship. Since their own signs had been rendered meaningless, stores and restaurants that were operational erected new "OPEN" signs, often crudely painted on huge unfinished sheets of plywood. They weren't pretty, but each was a welcome sight.
- A Hurricane is a concoction of several kinds of liquor that will really knock you on your ass. While real New Orleaneans have the sense to steer clear of this particular tourist trap, it was impossible to resist the reference.
||When we returned to New Orleans six weeks after Katrina to inspect the state of our apartment there, we expected to take hundreds of pictures. We soon learned that the drama did not lie in any individual example of damage but in the vastness of it. Still, a few things were unusual — or typical — enough to require documentation. Katrina Photos