Posted by: karitaylor | January 11, 2008

Suckin’ My Fingers at Hank’s: 1/13/08

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Today was fabulous. The weather was nice, I ate well, and I feel like I saw more of the area. I tagged along to an interview with Tom Levy, Director of Communications of the New Orleans Fire Department. He was so nice and had so much information on our topic. Afterwards, we went back to the hotel, dropped off our stuff and then went to the 9th Ward. The 9th Ward is the area that most people saw with stranded people on their houses and water everywhere. Surprisingly, it was bustling. There was much more activity than I had expected but there were also a lot of empty homes. Most of the houses were still marked with TFW, or Toxic Flood Water. It was a sight, even after 2 years.

We were hungry so we were driving around looking for local restaurants but most of them were still closed. What we’re finding is that most of the national restaurant chains were able to rebuild simply because they could afford to rebuild. We ended up at this place called Hank’s Super Market down on St. Claude. It was a little neighborhood stop n’ shop place that locals seemed to like. The place had food and so we stopped in and ordered. It was great because everything was fresh and well seasoned so it tasted wonderful. While we were waiting, Dwayne, one of the guys who was working the counter, offered us some crawfish. It was my first time eating them; we don’t really eat those in North Carolina. Dr. Book taught us how to eat them and we must have learned quickly because we killed that pile. Dr. Book ended up buying a pound and we ate them out of a plastic bag in the back of the car.

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After we ordered our food, however, we were just waiting around the store. It was a little awkward, I will say, because we obviously didn’t fit in. We stuck out like sore thumbs, if you will. The plan was to get food and then go see Brad Pitt’s Pink Houses in the Lower 9th Ward but we didn’t know how to get there. So I went up to the counter and asked Dwayne and Z, the two men who were at the counter. They asked me what we were there for and so I told them. Dwayne walked me and Tiffany outside and gave us directions to the Lower 9th.

Afterwards, I asked him if he listened to the radio during Katrina. “I experienced her,” he said. “I was stranded on the roof of my house for nine days.” “Nine days? How did you get off? Did you have to wade?” I asked. “My radio went out. I heard boats one day and it was the military. That’s how I got off.” Dwayne was up on his roof alone; he had evacuated his family to Baton Rouge well in advance but he stayed. “I didn’t think it would be that bad, so I just sent my kids with their mom and just stayed to watch things.”

Honestly, I didn’t really know what to say. I mean, what was I supposed to say? It just doesn’t compute to me, I don’t think. It’s hard for me to fully grasp what happened here. In a way, I’m bothered by that because it’s difficult to understand what I haven’t experienced for myself. So talking to people about it just bothers me because I can’t understand. It’s a frustrating job to do.

Yeah, today was fabulous.

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