Written by: Leia Lewis, Green For All Fellow
Originally posted on August 29, 2012
Right now, RIGHT NOW...people in the Caribbean and Gulf Coast are in the midst of a storm. Its name is Isaac. It's essential nature: The Winds of Change.
Remembering as we do, seven years ago, Hurricane Katrina marched on New Orleans (my beloved other home). Who would ever dare forget the surging winds, Lake Pontchartrain whipped into frenzy, Canal Street desolate, the levees broken, water in the Lower Nine rising, rising, rising....steadily rising.
For days, there was a mass exodus of vehicles inching down the interstate away from fast approaching danger. But so many thousand people remained in the city. Whether because of personal choice or lack of means, the people who stayed in New Orleans suffered an unusual suffering.
It was a vulnerable and gasping-for-air worst case scenario.
Imagine your family stranded, thirsty and ABANDONED. Hoping to be rescued from a blistering concrete highway overpass. Corralled into the Superdome to make a way out of NO WAY OUT. Sleeping on convention center pavement in filth. Some food, perhaps, and no medical attention at all. WAITING FOR DAAAAAAAAAYS. Thousands of souls wailing.
Then soldiers with guns arrive. You're directed onto a bus going somewhere. Never mind, you are on one bus, and your mother is on another bus, and your children are together on another bus. Your options aren't really options at all. Move as directed - or get off the bus and die.
Months and months, after the storm had passed and reality was shattered, proud people began pulling their lives back together. Desperate mothers looked for their children. Husbands and wives set up households in toxic FEMA trailers. Extended families shared lodging in double-bed hotel rooms. Good Samaritans all around the nation and world opened their purses, doors and fellowship halls to assist evacuees.
It's taking years to repair what could be saved. So much of life for Katrina survivors is also starting over from scratch. Some people are back in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Others made the (vexing or promising) decision to settle elsewhere. Too many people lost their lives.
Healing is ongoing.
My friends and their families from New Orleans went through these tragedies and more. They are good people - brilliant, faithful, beautiful and strong. I have never heard them speak of themselves as victims. In fact, they are VICTORS.
I won’t ever forget their stories and let us never forget.
...What does it mean to lose your home?
House. School. Neighbors. Place of worship. Heirlooms. Treasures. Favorite shop. Gathering place. Daily traditions. Generations-old ways of life. INTERRUPTED...OR JUST GONE.
My heart strains and aches to wonder.
...What does it mean to have healthy, safe and resilient communities?
Well, for me: Hurricane Katrina, August 23-30, 2005, blew away so many illusions of domestic security. For the sake of my children (and people everywhere), I'm embracing a life of greater self responsibility, environmental mindfulness, and loving kindness. When the storm comes blowing...as it always does, I figure it smart to borrow from the wisdom of my Ancestors and, like them, gain some practical skills.
This looks like my family and me wasting less and reusing more. Living simply and growing a garden. Teaching others to grow food and building authentic relationships of mutual growth and aid. Always praying, listening and learning, I'm committed to being the best of who I am.
The storm done changed me and I am not afraid.
If you want to know how to grow food, connect with me please. I welcome you to learn more at Sankofa Gardens. Furthermore, I encourage you to invest your precious time, energy and resources into building community with others near you.
I love you New Orleans. I love you Haiti.
My prayer candle is burning, burning, burning.
We ALL are connected.
Lord have mercy.