Thanks to the tropical storms brewing out in the Atlantic the French Quarter of New Orleans is pretty wet and raining but that it not stopping people from going out and about to celebrate their lives after Hurricane Katrina.
Last night I attended one such event at the St. Bernard Community Center.I am actually here to celebrate the release of a book, Katrina: A Freight Train Screamin.‘ A project four years in the making and one which I am proud to have been involved in. To get the full “scoop” on how I got involved in researching for and writing some chapters in this book, read Telling the Stories of Katrina Five Years After the Storm. But even before any of that happened a very special Houston area family shared their story with me!
Last night the author of Katrina: A Freight Train Screamin’ was given a warm welcome in the St. Bernard Parish. Chief Tom Stone shared with us more of the harrowing and often somewhat humorous memories of the St. Bernard and New Orleans FIre Department men and women who truly were hero’s before, during and after the storm. We also found out about the St. Bernard Community Center which is desperate need of help to stay open to continue providing helpful and much needed services like food, education, and training to the community. Some proceeds of the sale of the book will be donated to this effort.
Today the St. Bernard Fire Department is holing a burial service for Katrina. Think time capsule and healing process all in one. The devastation of Katrina will be buried along with fire hats, shirts, and other gear as well as written memories of the events from evacuation to rebuilding. In this way they hope to heal the wounds of Katrina and move on to a new beginning, as well as a new normal.
Tomorrow President Obama will be greeted in New Orleans with a lot more pomp and circumstance than we were today (and a lot more security!) but not any warmer than the people of St. Bernard Parish who warmly welcomed us and missed out on a good portion of the Saints game. (And I saw his arrival today, well his limo and security detail)
Afterwards the streets were filled with Saints jersey’s and the French Quarter crowds. Today is another day meeting with more of the amazing people, businesses and communities featured in Katrina: A Freight Train Screamin’. From the look on the street it would seem that all is back to normal, it is more appropriate to say that it is back to a “new normal.” One which the news crews don’t really show. Store fronts closed for business and building still going on, damages to home that are still being repaired and families still suffering from the loss of friends and family.
The stories in the book about Hurricane Katrina isn’t about politics or blame, it’s not about racism or bigotry, but it is about the beauty of the human spirit and the amazing, extraordinary things that ordinary people can accomplish in times of tragedy. If you like “good news” then it’s a documents/personal interest story that you won’t want to miss about the fireman, volunteers, families and very special people who continue to make a difference after the storm. It is currently available online for pre-release purchase or you can obtain a signed copy tonight at the Fair Grinds Coffeehouse, in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
Next . . . Share the Moon at La Petit Theatre and Jackson Square.