Monday, November 19, 2007

Coming Home

Yet another trip to New Orleans was this past weekend. This time was for another visit by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism course.

After a Friday morning trip to the Lower Ninth Ward (above) and an unexpected encounter with the Lt. Governor of Louisiana , we spent most of the time in Gentilly on Friday afternoon and Saturday.
This time the group focused on video interviews, and one of the general themes emerging is how hard it is for a household to return. It has everything to do with how we as a society handle (don't handle) the aftermath of catastrophes.

The extended inteviews tended to focus on older folks. It's a similar story as with everyone else. Being ripped off by contractors. It taking forever to find a reliable and quick contractor. Having some money from insurance or Road Home, but it not being enough. But something about this seems different for an older generation of mostly African-American people who have already seen and been through so much.

When one older woman was showing us her gutted house that she is gradually bringing back a bit at a time, she was casually describing rooms that really weren't there anymore. "This was my kitchen. This was my living room. This was my bathroom and where the bathtub was..."

I almost cried right there. My eyes water now just thinking about it. Sad tears and happy tears. Sad about the loss I was bearing some witness to. Yet moved by the resilience. Her nephew commented later that as long as she was breathing, she'd be working to get back into that house. Her home.


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