New Orleans…My Love

Did you know that after Hurricane Katrina a woman walked so long through the floodwater that she had to leave her infant on top of a trash can so that she could continue to walk her and her toddler to safety? Did you know a nurse witnessed doctors commandeer hospital helicopters “to evacuate themselves instead of the patients that had been brought two blocks and up two flights of stairs while clinging to life”? Did you know the federal government decided to fund 100,000 mobile homes instead of giving that money to reinvest in New Orleans by “repairing and rebuilding homes that have sat on this land for 150 years”? What I’m trying to say is, if you want to know what Hurricane Katrina was really like for a New Orleanian, this zine, or personal account of a Big Easy resident, Shelley, will tell you.

For someone like me who was a little too young to understand the actual consequences and effects of Hurricane Katrina at the time, this was a real eye-opener. Not only does it give the general picture of who was at fault, or the things that went wrong, but it also gives a more personal story; a story that makes you feel what these people felt, and understand the seemingly impossible hardships that they went through. This play-by-play style story had me tearing up before the Hurricane even hit. From the moment Shelley is deciding if she should even evacuate, to her volunteering in Mobile, to her finding a temporary home in Lafayette, and finally to her rebuilding her life in New Orleans, this zine really shows this persons true love for New Orleans and reminds us of our own love for this city. Not only does this zine offer true stories of tragedy, sympathy, empathy, love, and lending a hand in times of trouble, but it also offers actual descriptions of the unbearable heat, the toxic waste, the abandoned pets, and the seemingly apocalyptic wasteland that the city looked like after the disaster. In my opinion, everyone in the country should read this zine, or personal story; not only to understand what happened in those first couple of months after Katrina, but to understand how far the city has come, and to be reminded that it still has a ways to go to be fully recovered.

Favorite quote: “For those of you who don’t know me or others from New Orleans, there are few places that inspire the type of devotion to a city like New Orleans does. It’s the kind of place people love to tell stories about. But they are different than tales of other cities. Like the difference between telling stories about some acquaintance and telling stories about a long time lover. They are more close, intimate.”

-Mila Monroe

Review by Sentaniz Palmer

Besides “Emergency,” which doesn’t only take place in New Orleans, “New Orleans…My Love” is my favorite zine written about New Orleans after Katrina.  Or, as my cousin would say, “that K word.”  This zine is very emotional and heart-wrenching, as you would expect.  The cover shows a woman with a look of pained grief on her face standing in front of a door, which I assume is her home.  The stories of loss, belonging, community, hope, longing, desperation, and fight are common when talking about the hurricane, but there is always another tale that will shock or inspire you.  This zine includes the account of a woman who carried her toddler and her infant through the flood for hours before she realized she could only make it with one of them.  She then left her baby and kept walking with the toddler.  I had goose bumps while reading this zine.  While this zine gave me chills, it also is a very good reminder of the resilience of the city of New Orleans and its people, the tragic and beautiful process of getting back up, repairing the damage and being strong to continue life as best you can.  The author compares the I-10 right after Katrina to “a highway with an end like the one on the cover of that Shel Silverstein book Where the Sidewalk Ends.”  This ominous image gave way to entries about the people after the storm, the evacuees in the shelters dancing and blasting music, getting along with one another and appreciating so greatly what they had left in life.  I highly recommend this zine to anybody who cares about New Orleans.

-Sentaniz Palmer

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