Posted by: jayliotta | January 11, 2008

Scar Tissue

The Lower Ninth Ward still bears the scars left from Hurricane Katrina. The houses that were not entirely destroyed by the flood or torn down later remain largely boarded up, each one bearing a prominent X on its side. The X’s were used by rescue workers to mark homes as they were searched. Each quadrant was used to correlate information to other emergency workers in the area, such as the date the house was searched, by which organization, and whether the house was inhabitable. The lower quadrant displayed how many bodies were found in the home. Most homes are marked with a zero, a sign of a successful evacuation. Unfortunately, this makes the homes without a zero painfully obvious to the community.

And yet, the residents of the Lower 9th who have come home seem to have returned to their daily lives. Children played energetically sidewalks, all too happy to give directions to a couple of lost outsiders.  Elderly men sat on the steps outsides their homes, swapping stories and jokes. Hank’s Supermarket still serves up a surprisingly and tasty spicy shrimp po’boy.

One of the images that stuck with me was a specific house marked with an X indicating inside two lives were claimed by Katrina. Somebody attempted to paint over the X, perhaps the victims’ family, but the neon green 2 in the lower quadrant was still visible. As we passed, I noticed a man loading groceries out of his car and taking them inside this home without glancing at the X as he entered. The juxtaposition of one man doing something so normal despite the obvious display of devastation was striking.

Two years after Hurricane Katrina made land fall, this image seems indicative of life in New Orleans.  Although faded reminders of loss still exist in the city, the people are rebuilding their homes, their lives, and hopefully returning to life as it was before the storm.

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