Former fourth grade teacher, mentor, friend and fellow blogger Paul Tamburello is down in New Orleans for his fifth trip to the Crescent City, a place that has grabbed a firm place in his heart, if not yet his part-time residence.
Five years ago, Katrina drowned the city. The storm broke it in ways it wasn’t broken before. The black community that makes up the majority of the city remembers a history of being left to hang out to dry after Hurricane Betsy in 1965 and felt it happening again with Katrina in 2005. Conspiracy theories about how and why the levees failed persist in these communities.
Remember video clips of people in New Orleans waving “HELP US” signs from rooftops of houses in over 20 feet of water in the aftermath of Katrina in 2005. Remember wondering why the National Guard, Red Cross, and FEMA didn’t show up a day after CNN began filming the horror? Remember thinking the scene looked like it must be happening in some third world country an ocean away?
How does this city balance the duality of injustice and inequality on one hand and exuberance for life on the other by continuing to let the good times roll in their lovable quirky ways ? There’s an old Lloyd Price song titled, “I Don’t Know Why I Love You But I Do.” Maybe that’s how New Orleanians feel about their city.
This is my fifth visit to New Orleans since the storm. The fact that I love the city certainly colors my writing about it so here on the eve of the fifth anniversary of Katrina, there are some things I’m sorting out.