On TV, I saw bodies floating in the muck and I thought, I can’t go there. It would add to their pain. I heard stories of unbelievable horror, of the National Guard shooting at citizens trying to flee the rising waters across the state line. As the dirty water rose higher and higher, I thought,I can’t go there. On TV, I saw animals and people on rooftops looking skywards, as if some divine intervention might strike; helicopters droning by like specks of dust far off in the distance. I thought,I can’t go there. It would add to their pain.
Who is to blame? The insurance companies who refuse payments to flood victims? Technically speaking, they say, your hurricane insurance doesn’t cover floodwater damage. Corruption contaminates the water further. The levy crumbled but who really keeps a home and land secure? The waters rose, putrid and clinging to dead dogs, washing Mardi Gras beads and untreated sewage onto wrought iron railings. I finally decided to go there, after the first responders moved on to another catastrophe. I witnessed and recorded the aftermath, the un-doing of a sacred community spirit and visit the ghosts of history. I will continue to return until the landscape offers up a new memory.