Last week marked the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Isn’t it crazy that Katrina serves as a watermark in time for New Orleanians? You’ll be having a conversation with someone, and they’ll regard back to an earlier date, saying something like “Oh yeah before the storm we used to do this, or live here or drive this,” even if it’s completely unrelated to the storm? I think that is such an overlooked aspect that speaks to how truly devastating it was for such an amazing, strong community.
I was young when the storm hit, didn’t really understand the power of it, or the gravity of the situation. I remember driving back into the city and seeing that yes, the Super Dome was quite tarnished but I didn’t really understand. Looking back I think about it, and I’m almost jealous of the naive innocence of my younger self.
I grew up all of my life a Saints fan. A fanatic if you will. I remember that offseason for the Saints. Blue tarps everywhere, MRE’s for lunch or Canes’ if you went and braved the hour long lines, and listening to the radio hearing about the Saints acquiring a new head coach in Sean Payton, then a new quarterback in Drew Brees, and then a shiny new toy for the team in rookie phenom Reggie Bush. It seemed hearing about the Saints was the only good part of the day for many New Orleanians.
The season started and the Saints got off to a great start. Going 2-0 in their first two games, which were away, then returning home to play their rival the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina made landfall and tore apart such a historically and culturally rich and beautiful city.
I was blessed enough to be able to attend the game. At this point, it’s a year after the Hurricane, so my understanding of it all is slightly better. I remember being there, seeing just the emotions run wild. People telling one another, “I can’t believe it, we’re here!” It was so easy to see this was so much than football. The game got started and the Saints started excellently, forcing the Falcons to punt on their first possession. And then it happened. The block heard ‘round the world. Steve Gleason burst right through the center and blocked the punt, and it was returned for the touchdown. There wasn’t a dry eye in the stadium. That block would go on to lead the Saints to victory and be the symbol for New Orleanians of hope.
It was a parallel situation to an extent for many, and it’s almost like the citizens related to it. A shattered organization, their home completely torn apart. What did they do? They did’t give up and they built from the ground up. Giving many of New Orleanians what they all so desperately needed: hope.
With our friends over in Houston experiencing devastating flooding, we too can help give them hope. It may not be as rejuvenating as a Steve Gleason punt block, but every bit helps. There many ways to donate, which we have listed on our Lifesongs hurricane page and there is always the power of prayer. All of us in Southeast Louisiana know how much that hope can revitalize a devastated region, so let’s try our best to instill some hope to our brothers and sisters in Texas.