Hurricane Katrina – 10 Years Later, Part 1
We’ll soon observe 10 years since Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita affected the region. I’ve thought of the storms every once in a while, but a little less as time passes. Soon we’ll be inundated with stories retelling what happened in August 2005 and in the years since.
Like many of you, we lived through Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, but we also worked to help Building Owners and Contractors in the aftermath of both storms. Most of our work was mold related, but we did a fair amount of asbestos work as a result of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. Our work ranged from Pascagoula, Mississippi, all the way to southwest Louisiana. We worked in hotels, schools, libraries, airports, casinos, offices – you name it.
Early on, we got calls from Building Owners hoping to reassure occupants and staff members that it was safe to return. One particularly memorable project in September 2005 involved walking through a residential development in the New Orleans Warehouse District. Besides assessing mold and moisture damage, the Owner asked us to test the water. Remember, while some areas were flooded, many expressed concern over drinking water safety. The Owner had to perform cleanup, most of the work involving trash and debris removal. The odor from the trash was epically bad, causing me to coin the term “Hurricane Katrina smell” to describe rancid trash. I bet many of you can relate.
The most memorable aspect of the project was how empty the Warehouse District was – it was the middle of the day, and I was the only person in sight. Cars everywhere. If you’ve been in the Warehouse District, you know there are people everywhere during the day. I remember feeling as if I were in a real life version of one of those 80’s movies where I was the only survivor of some post apocalyptic event. Creepy. I wish I’d taken pictures, but I wanted to get the heck out of there as soon as I could.
Next, we did some work at the New Orleans Convention Center. We’ve all seen the stories – in some ways, the Convention Center and Superdome were the epicenters of suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I visited the site two weeks after cleanup began, and while much of the trash and debris were gone, and a massive cleanup was underway, I couldn’t help but feel amazement at how people endured. Considering the lack of sanitary facilities, food, and water, rotting food, soaring temperatures, and thousands cramped into close proximity, it’s little wonder so many wondered if the world had gone mad. Luckily, I’ve been to the Convention Center since, and it is once again a world class facility.
Almost 10 years later, looking at these pictures and remembering these projects evoke powerful feelings. Sadness, loss, and some anger at the way some (not all!) local, state, and federal officials behaved in the aftermath. I’m not going to get political here, but I think we can all agree that in many ways the recovery hasn’t gone as it should. Rather than dwelling on that, I’m going to focus on the strength and resilience of the people of our region. Y’all are strong, good people, who pretty much as a whole, would help anyone at any time if you could, and would give a stranger the shirt off your back, never asking anything in return. I know that’s not limited to just our area, and I’m glad for that.
Remember, we’re about to enter the time of year where we’re most likely to experience tropical storms and hurricanes. You may get sick of all the reminders, and I hope the reminders end up being just talk. All the same, I hope you prepare for the coming storm season (and I hope we avoid damaging storms).
Until the next episode:
What are your Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita stories? Please send me your comments, and I’ll include your responses in a future post. And if I can help with anything, give me a call (225-761-9141 extension 22) or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay dry, and stay safe, my friends.