Six years have passed since I watched many of my friends’ home city go underwater. It still remains one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen.
As a former New Orleanian who was a transplant to start, I wasn’t too sure what I was getting into when I first accepted the job offer to come to WWL-870 AM more than a decade ago. I knew very little about the “City That Care Forgot,” other than there’s a really cheesy Dennis Quaid flick about it and the “Real World” did a season there the summer after I graduated from college.
What happened when I got there was nothing short of miraculous – I overcame some personal heartache to leave the city as a better person than when I found it three years prior. Thanks largely to the small group of friends I made while down there. When I went through my darkest times (a break-up, my car getting stolen, and then three months without a job), they were there to listen, to distract me, and to give me food.
In the days leading to Hurricane Katrina making landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River (just over a year after moving away), I had a sinking feeling. One the National Hurricane Center couldn’t predict.
I watched for days on CNN and Fox News the images of people stranded at the Morial Convention Center and the Superdome and on roofs. I learned a friend of the media (a New Orleans Police Department Public Information Officer) committed suicide the weekend after Katrina came through.
This past March, I was lucky enough to be able to return and see how the city and region has recovered. Most of the FEMA trailers are gone. Many places that resembled Baghdad on a mild day in the early part of 2006 (last time I visited) had been revived. The city had an exuberance back to it (I might point out it helps to have a Super Bowl win as well).
While the city of New Orleans and its people still hurt, they’re strong (they have to be – the summers down there are brutal). They remain some of the nicest and most generous people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.
Let’s Go #Saints!!