I have watched the city sort of claw its way back since Katrina. I’ve lived here the past three years.
I have seen tourists slowly return, convention business pick up, and certainly the slowest sign of recovery –people rebuilding their homes and lives.
I watched with complete amazement as people poured out of the city in about a day, instantly turning New Orleans into a ghost town once again.
So, last night I decided this could be the last time I have some free time to myself in a long time, so jumped on the mountain bike and took a ride along the levee next to the Mississippi River.
It was dusk, as I wound my way around and I had a chance to look down at all the homes wondering if they would all be there intact on Tuesday.
But soon, I was focused on the people as they were packing up their cars to leave the city. This wasn’t like three years ago when people packed for a couple of days thinking Katrina would be an ugly little blip and then life would go on. There were big suitcases, grown-ups hugging, kids wondering what the next 48 hours held.
I stopped at a friend’s house, a lawyer from Chile who is set to move back to South America in two weeks. It’s safe to say she is freaking out. She’s now in Tallahassee anxiously waiting for Gustav. When I think of all the work people, PEOPLE, not the government, have poured into this city –I am reminded of that famous NASA line during the Apollo 13 crisis, “Failure is not an option.”
But sadly, people will watch from a distance having to put all their faith in work the Army Corps of Engineers has done on porous levees over the past three years. I have covered a lot of natural disasters, but this is the first time I have lived in a city in the cross-hairs.
It feels odd, and all I can do is cross my fingers and say, “we’ll see you on the other side.”
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