Thirty-one years ago today, yours truly was dragged from the womb… kicking and screaming and covered in blood from where the doctor sliced open her head while sawing through the gut of her mother.
True story. One with a happy ending, of course. But true nonetheless. I even have the scar to prove it.
I’m typically quite excited about my birthday, but today I’m feeling a little morose. Not so much because I’m another year older. Come on, getting older just means getting AWESOMER. No, today I’ve been thinking about Hurricane Katrina. Which, in case you don’t remember or have yet to be reminded, occurred 6 years ago today. Thanks to some recent conversations and a timely NPR segment about a new Katrina documentary by Harry Shearer of Spinal Tap fame (!), my skepticism about what really went down in the Crescent City has been renewed.
As a gulf coast native, New Orleans has always held a special place in my heart. Many long weekends of my youth were spent wandering the French Quarter, munching on beignets, and celebrating the music and debauchery of America’s most culturally rich city. And don’t even get me started on Mardi Gras. Meemmorriiiesss!
Anyhow, every time I think of Katrina I can’t help but remember the conversation I had with a bartender in New Orleans two years before. In 2004 Hurricane Ivan struck the gulf coast and decimated Pensacola, my hometown. It was a crazy storm, but we survived unscathed for the most part. But after two weeks without power, my friends and I decided to drive over and spend some time in NOLA while they got everything back up and running at home.
Naturally, we spent most of our time there in bars. While much of the trip was a blur, a conversation we had with a bartender still sticks out. As we were explaining the reason for our trip, we got on the topic of how devastating a hurricane would be to New Orleans. We tried to imagine how the historic downtown areas we loved would avoid the swells of the mighty Mississippi, but she interrupted us with “Oh honey, we don’t even worry about the Quarter. Everybody knows they’ll blow the levees uptown to save the historic districts.” Now, maybe she didn’t know what the hell she was talkin about. But maybe she did. Somewhat, anyways.
Enter the NPR segment: Harry Shearer was promoting his new Katrina documentary, The Big Uneasy. In the film, Shearer explores the unreported (at best) reality of what caused our country’s most expensive “natural disaster” and how our government has failed to correct the issues that brought about the floods in the first place. Complete with whistle-blowers! I haven’t seen it yet, but as soon as I can get my hands on it…
So, although I’m deliriously happy and grateful to live another year… I’m still thinking about the thousands who weren’t so lucky six years ago.