--- August 29, 2005 ---
Katrina forever changed the face of the Louisiana & Mississippi Gulf Coast.







This hurricane had a devastating statewide impact on the lives the people.
The images are overwhelming... the stories are horrific....
But the one who bears the greatest burden in MY world is my sister...
who lived through the destruction... has rebuilt her world....
and has returned to New Orleans... to get on with LIFE!

These photos document many trips to New Orleans, to tear down... and to rebuild.

This is her story.... these photos speak for her loss....





... September 8, 2005...
Our first journey back into the devastation...
We enter a deserted city...
Veterans Blvd. & Clearview, a once-bustling intersection, is totally uninhabited...
except for the massive military presence, providing safety and comfort.
Overhead, huge military helicopters race back and forth, rescuing and recovering.
Neighborhood streets are impassable... fallen old growth oaks completely swallow up streets and roads.
The debris and devastation is beyond anything we can imagine.
Just IDENTIFYING anything that would be recognizable is difficult.
We press onward, taking alternate routes....TRYING to get to her street...
We have no idea what we'll find... we see the devastation of the OTHER homes we pass...
and we wonder about HER home.
The feeling is surreal...










   

The interior is dark as we enter...
We're armed with face masks and industrial gloves, aware of the dangers.
The carpet is still holding water, and our feet make squishy noises as we move further into the house.
The humidity INSIDE the home is overpowering... and the mold has now taken hold.
Breathing through the face masks, amid the heat and humidity, is miserable.
The furniture in the den(L)is soaked and covered in fast-growing mold.
In the kitchen,(R), a newly-laid white tile floor is now black and indistinguishable.
Lake Pontchatrain brought its mud when it invaded her home.











   

Neighbors helping neighbors... everyone on her street is here this day... to salvage what they can.
Sister's home stood in water for days...
water that wicked up the walls, turning furniture and belongings into useless, wet DEBRIS.
With neighbors' help, she has 30 years of accumulated possessions lying in the yard...
We hear of military units helping elderly homeowners salvage what they can....
and national guard squads helping victims, still in shock, pull the debris out of their devastated homes.









   

Suddenly, priorities are altered...
Possessions once thought of as having untold worth...
Now act as sponges and wicks for the water, moisture, and mold.
A home once FILLED with treasured possessions...
We leave this day, simply pulling the door closed... no reason to LOCK the door...
everything is out front..... strewn across the yard...
We drive away with only what we can load into our SUV!








   

The mold... it had taken possession.
Her beautiful living & dining room... with mold growing up the walls.
Before we left this day, we had taken hammers to her living room wall...
pulling out sheetrock and insulation... trying to stop the effects of the water.













The humidity INSIDE the house takes its toll... on the video camera.
Back outside, the camera TRIES to film the growing mountain of household possessions...
but the excessive moisture INSIDE the house has even reached into my camcorder!











October 15, 2005...
The reality of the situation is brought home with a jolt!
We're making trips every 2 weeks, to try to get her home back on track to a full recovery.
She has found an incredible contractor, an honest, capable, conscientious man... Hallelujah!
This day, however, the trucks were hauling the debris away.
Trucks were making their way down the street, as equipment dumped huge
shovel-fuls of peoples' lives into the trucks to be hauled away.
For the first time, we notice that there are now make-shift vertical extensions
on the sides of the truckbed, to handle the sheer VOLUME of debris!











   

October 15, 2005...
This trip finds the mold gone.... along with the lower portion of every wall in the house.
Her home has now been reduced to foundation and studs...
But, now, we see its potential... we see the glass as being "half full"!
The devastation is gone, the debris is gone... now to begin to rebuild!












May, 2006...
PROGRESS...
Once-carpeted den now sports beautiful 18x18" tile..
Painting is completed... we are quite pleased with ourselves... we chose WELL!
Custom kitchen cabinets have been installed... now to wait on the granite counters.
The reconstruction has been a challenge... the infrastructure in New Orleans is still in chaos.
We deliver many construction items across the state OURSELVES...
bathroom tiles... bathroom countertops... whatever can FIT in the SUV!













July, 2006...
HOME AGAIN...
11 Months after Katrina wreaked its havoc on New Orleans,
my sister moved home.
Her neighborhood is stable, all residents are still there...
only their homes are not inhabitable. As it is with most neighborhoods
across the city, FEMA trailers sit in front yards... as people await reconstruction.

July, 2006...
This view from sister's front yard....looking TOWARD Lake Pontchatrain.
Behind that pink house at the end of the street lies Lake Pontchatrain!
Its levees are visible...



The journey of the last year has been one that no one ever expected to make.
Lives have been changed..... forever. And, through it all, people have come together...
helping each other... helping New Orleans rebuild... friends helping friends.

And my sister's life has now begun to return to some semblance of normalcy...
and for THAT, I thank GOD!





After all of the destruction, the only thing left of life "before Aug 29"
was that ONE, lone tennis ball...
one of Katie WC's beloved 'Orbs'...
no longer yellow...




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