‘Our neighborhood was the worst we saw’
Note: Steve Katz is a Vail second-home owner from New Orleans. His New Orleans home was flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. On Sept. 16, the Daily told his story, in which his grandmother was flooded from her New Orleans home. He allowed us to print this dispatch he sent to family and friends.NEW ORLEANS – (My family) went down to New Orleans for five days and did the kind of heavy labor we haven’t done since we moved into the house 22 years ago.
Our neighborhood (near the canal break) was probably the worst we saw.This is not just a ploy for self-pity. We saw many neighborhoods, but Lakewood had a feeling of death I’ve never experienced. Other neighborhoods had even more water and more trees down, but ours had a look (Katz’s wife) Mary Sue describes as “nuclear bomb.”The vegetation in the neighborhood is all dead. The grass is brown, not a green blade. Only the cypress and pine trees appear healthy; they are natural swamp trees. The residue is nasty.The scariest story is when we were just finishing the first day’s work. Mary Sue had been packing and was out of the muck. Coming out of the house she stepped through muck with a pair of galoshes. Then as we were talking, she jerked back her foot as though she had stepped in an ant pile.
We all looked as she removed her shoes – the rubber was disintegrating before our eyes. Some “water.”The water line was about 6 feet; the roof, too, was compromised. The furniture looked as though it had been placed in a blender. There were pieces of the same furniture in every room of the first floor. No piece was salvageable. My cousin Stan sent me a picture that depicts an orthodox rabbi carrying a Torah above the 4-foot flood in the synagogue. He is trying to save the Torah through efforts that are probably beyond his physical ability.
Whether he was successful, I do not know. What impressed me was that this picture could have been taken anytime over the past 5,000 years, from the original Passover to the crossing of the Red Sea to the Holocaust.
My friend Das compared losing a home to losing a loved one. It was very touching since he has lost a family member. Sadly, he is right.I head to N.O. again after the weekend. From here it should be upward — hopefully. Thanks to everyone for keeping in touch.
P.S. My grandmother is doing just fine!!!
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