Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hurricane Runner's

By Karen W. La Beau

            There are two times in my life (pre-Katrina) that I fled New Orleans from a potential Hurricane that sticks out in my mind.  The first time was around 1993.  My first-born child was a toddler.  My husband worked for the City.  He was “essential personnel.”  He could not leave.  I had never been separated from my husband of four years at this time.  My parents, were not even “Hurricane Runners” at this time.  My in laws, were "runners".   They were planning their route and wanted us to come.  To leave my parents and my husband with a potential Hurricane threat was frightening.  However, I had to think of my beautiful baby girl, Jessica.  I left with tears in my eyes.  Thank goodness all came out well.  I was only one of many dry run rehearsals preparing us at that time for the unknown to come, Katrina.

            The second time was September 2004.  Hurricane Ivan was coming across the Gulf for us.  I now had two kids.  My baby, Scott was eight. By this time, most of my family had joined the “Hurricane Runner” club.  Some New Orleanians refer to it as a Hurrication (an impromptu vacation due to the hurricane). Out of my extended family fourteen of us out of twenty-one had become regular runners. I can’t remember what day it was that we left.  I just remembered that we were headed eight hours away to Dallas.  It was the only place we could get rooms.  Ivan turned and hit our poor neighbor’s that had been hit so many times before, Florida.  When it was safe to returned home, my parents, my godmother and my family decided to make an extra day out of it.  We didn’t want to be caught up in the rush traffic to get home.  We stayed at a beautiful Casino hotel.  My parents & godmother were entertained.  My husband and I took the kids poolside to entertain them.  We had a good time!

We started on our journey the next morning fresh and relaxed.  That would soon change.  I was driving our SUV to give my husband a break. Outside of Baton Rouge, we began to calculate what time we would be home.  Baton Rouge is an hour from New Orleans.  We calculated an hour and a half.  Traffic came to an unexpected halt and I was unable to stop safely.  My parents were directly in front of our car.  My last thoughts were, “I can’t hit my parents.”  I attempted to pull the car to the shoulder in a panic and lost control.  It was the last thing that I remembered.  When I regained consciousness, my SUV had flipped over two times and slide about a 100ft down the highway.  We straddled one lane.  How we didn’t hit another car is not know.  The highway was grid locked. The truck was now in front of my parent’s car, on the highway on its side.  I was dazed.  I heard my husband asking my kids if they were fine, while he was unhooking his belt to help them.  I heard people running to the car and talking.  One man said, “ is there gas leaking?”  It was like a bolt of lightening that hit me and then told me I better move and get out.  I was unable to move prior to that from the shock.  My son who only weighed about sixty pounds was hanging from the seat belt by his neck.  My father had reached us by this time.  He had been driving without out shoes.  When he saw the accident, he got out of the car and ran across broken glass (without a thought) to get to us.  The thought that my mother, father and aunt watched the accident unfold before me haunts me.  My father said that my aunt and mother were screaming. The state trooper said that the seat belts, construction of the vehicle and God saved our lives.  All of our belongings were scatted over the highway.  I had packed our wedding album and baby books.  I can’t not tell you how many people had stopped and helped us.  There were two off duty EMT’s (husband & wife) that aided in the initial assessment of my family and me.  It made me cry to see men; women and children bring our belongings to my parent truck. They were all trying to help any way they could.  My husband and daughter where taken to the near by hospital to be check out. We all walked away from the accident fine physically accepts some cuts, bruises and burns from the seat belt.  Mentally, that’s another story.  My husband joked with me because I had never had an accident in my eighteen years of driving.  He told me, “When you had your first accident you had to do it up big!”

I remember the day before we left New Orleans on our countless hurricane drills.  This time the named storm was Katrina.  It was Friday, August 28, 2005.  I remember talking with my ex-supervisor, Lois.  She was a “Hurricane Runner” as well.  We talked if we were planning to leave or not. My officemate Lorraine and I mulled over to leave or not leave as well.  At the end of the day, I told my girlfriend Daphne T, “see you on Monday, unless the hurricane hits!”  Friday evening my son had a football game at our neighborhood park.  It was his first year playing and he was doing great.  I talked with all my “park friends” as we sat on the sidelines watching the came.  My daughter was pouting because none of her friends were at the park.  A popular high school, St. Augustine had a dance that night.  So, Kenilworth Park was not filled with the usual teenagers that hung out there.  My son was to have a game on Saturday at a park around Carrollton Ave, across town.   Darrel and I out weighed the fact of leaving on tomorrow and not letting him play in the game. 

By this time in my life post-accident, I was tired of running and it had cost me financially and emotionally.  I’m usually the one rallying the troupes for our Hurricane run.  The families, my in-laws and mine usually discuss the logistics of where is the best place to go.  I usually make the reservations and time frame on when to leave.  I had just paid our bills, including the mortgage and didn’t have much money. The choice for me for the first time in my “running” years was not to go.  My husband and I felt the same way.  My mother, my brother in law, my godmother all shared the same thought. My father however, was determined to leave.  It was crystal clear for him.  He decided he was leaving even if it meant he left alone. That’s kind of ironic to say I had to beg him to join the “Hurricane Runners” way back when.  My uncle worked for the Convention Center.  He was “essential personnel.”  My godmother had decided she would go with her brother and be safe there.  I had even spoken with my girlfriend from high school, Rene’.  She didn’t want to leave either. My good friend and husband’s cousin, Pedra didn’t really want to go, but her husband had made the plans to leave. I had decided that if my father went, I would send my kids with them and my husband and I could stay upstairs.  I figured we’d be fine.  Besides, my oldest friend was having a baby shower for her eldest daughter on Saturday.  I had to make my deviled eggs that everyone loved.

Saturday morning, my mother called.  The storm had grown in intensity and power.  My dad was ready to make reservations and plans to leave.  I had no interest in making those plans.  I had decided to stay.  I was on my way out to the store, so I asked my mom to make the calls.  Everyone was calling me.  After all, I was usually the gal with the plan.  I had no plan and no emotional energy to have one.  My husband had decided we should leave that this may be “it.” My Godmother, Gloria had decided she needed to leave the city with us.  All of my family was leaving except my uncle , aunt  and their two children, their daughter in-law and three grandchildren.  They were going to stay in the Convention Center. 

I had decided that I would make the eggs and drop them off for my girlfriend and let her know my family had decided to leave today. The storm wasn’t to hit until Monday (we didn’t want to be in the grid lock of traffic heading out).  I met Sigrid at her house, my friend who was having the baby shower.  We went to Winn-Dixie on Chef together.  We shopped and talked. I let her know what time I would bring the eggs to the hall.  In the mean time, my phone was ringing off the hook.  My husband had gotten a bad feeling and was ready to leave.  I threw a few things together in a suitcase for us after returning from the store. Our usual preparations take some time.  I usually move our pictures and sentimental things upstairs.  In the past, we’ve put the computer in the bathtub upstairs as well as the coats from the downstairs closest.  My husband, Darrel would pick up his beloved Bose speakers. This time, all we did was move our patio furniture inside and packed. The family cockatiel had a travel cage.  However, upon reflecting on the accident, a repeat would have meant the bird would not have survived that.  We opted to leave the cage door open and plenty of food and water.  

I left to drop the egg off for my friend.  My phone continued to ring.  By this time all who had thought not to leave realized we had to leave.  My husband continued to get a bad feeling and was constantly calling me to get home.  I dropped the eggs off and told my friend goodbye.  Little did I know I would not see her for a long, long time.

Our plan was simple.  Reservations were made in Baton Rouge for Saturday night and Houston for the next three days following that.  We would sleep in B.R. on Saturday night.  If the storm continued to come our way, we would head to Houston.  We proceeded to Houston the next day.  When we reached our destination it was fourteen of us: my family of four, my parents, aunt, my in-laws to include my sister in-law, brother in-law, my two nieces and my sister-law and good friend, her parents and sister.  I remember sitting in the hotel lobby with fellow “Hurricane Runners” watching the updates on the storm. Some of us joked about the past storms; we talked about family members that made a decision to stay.  None of us expected what was to come in the days ahead.  Watching the storm come ashore to my beautiful city was heart breaking.  All of us in the lobby watched with horror and feared for those who stayed.  Some of us cried, some of us covered our mouths and some were in disbelief. Despite the horror we witnessed, none of us had a clue how much our lives would be forever changed!

On Thursday following the Hurricane we were emotionally drained from the past several days.  We felt the kids needed a change as well.  We went to the Houston Galleria Mall.  Upon entering the parking lot we started to know the large amount of cars with LA. license plates. Many of the cars had New Orleans decals or sports related stickers. Once inside the mall we would see groups of people talking and as we past the groups you would them say things like “my bother, cousin, or they know some one in New Orleans who said…. “

Walking though the mall we started seeing people we knew and we came to realize that the mall was pack with New Orleanians. We ran into people my daughter played softball with as well as people my husband grew up with.  It was a bittersweet reunion of sorts.  The conversation would always turn to have you heard anything from home or do you know if a certain person left. New Orleanians filled the entire mall trying to gather any new information from home.

The day’s that followed were filled with so much sense of loss and pain, it’s indescribable.  After we realized that we would not be going home anytime soon, we had to make a plan.  After all, we could not stay in a hotel forever!  My mother had family in Lafayette, La.  My family plan to leave Houston and journey to Lafayette.  It was hard to leave my in-laws. They had to make their own plan as well.  My cousin Paulette and her husband welcomed into their home.  My cousin Keith opened his doors as well.  I don’t ever remember meeting Paulette.  She’d been living in New York and had recently returned home.  I hadn’t seen my cousin Keith since I was eighteen.  Nonetheless, they opened their hearts and doors to us.

My aunt had lost contact with her brother, my uncle who worked in the Convention Center.  We were all worried.  It was Friday evening after the storm and some parts of the city was still filled with water. My other aunt got a call from my uncle.  They were fine and planning to leave early Saturday morning to come where we were.  The conversation was brief and my aunt noted that my uncle was whispering.  Saturday morning, we were in Wal-mart when my aunt called to give her the status on where they were.  My aunt to told me that it was awful and couldn’t have imagined what they went through.  She told me they were held hostage in the Convention Center.  The thugs had taken the food supplies.  She said people were also being raped and one person was shot.  Aunt explained how they had to drive out of the Convention Center parking lot in the dark with no car lights on at 3:00am. This was because the armed thugs would have stopped them.  They drove across the Greater New Orleans Bridge and escaped that way. She told me they need gasoline and past one gas station that was trying to sell gas at five dollars a gallon.  Tears began to fall from my face. How could this be?  What has happened to my city? 

By this time, the media had begun to report the crimes that were hitting the Superdome, Convention Center and the downtown streets of New Orleans.  The media showed footage of people sleeping on the interstate in groups and some being rescued from rooftops.  The new showed photos of dead bodies floating in the water.  One photo in particularly stuck out in my mind.  It was a picture of the Circle Food store with a dead body floating in the forefront.  The Circle Food store has always had a special meaning to me.  My grandfather, Daddy Abe we called him, was a sign painter.  He painted the signs in front of the store that told you what the weekly special was. The people that chose to stay, were trapped, hungry and scared.  Wow! I could have been on of those people that were sitting on my roof waiting for rescue!!

When my Uncle and his family arrived at my cousins’ home, it was a sense of relief.  It brought tears and smiles to our faces at the same time.  I was so glad to see them.  We all shared in big hugs and kisses. 

In the days that followed, the process was started to fine an apartment and my husband was scouting out potential jobs.  Lafayette had become so saturated with people; there long lines on the streets and scares products in the store. My dad had cousins in Shreveport, LA.  He thought we’d be able to get settled more there than Lafayette.  Shreveport!!! What’s in Shreveport other than family?  Not to mention its five hours from New Orleans!  My godmother chose to stay in Lafayette.  Under protest, I packed up and we headed for Shreveport.

September ‘05

My cousin's that I had never met welcomed us with open arms.  They were so kind and gracious to us.  I truly felt blessed that they were so kind to us. Cousin Rose opened her home to us.  My cousin Otis opened his home to my in-laws.

They were a God-send in the days and months that followed. My cousins made our transition in a strange city easier and more comforting.  I could never repay them for their kindness.

  In the weeks that followed, the water slowly went down in the city.  We vigilantly took in all forms of media to keep up with the progress.  It was almost cultish they way we followed the news. 

My husband and I talked about our future in New Orleans.  I realized that eventually when the city was able to began to function again, my job would make me return.  That would mean uprooting my children again. It would an even bigger problem of what school would I send the kids to. Where would we lay our head?   Decisions needed to be made.

We made the decision that New Orleans in not in our near future as a place of residence.  As heartbreaking as the thought was, we had to face reality.  There was so much uncertainly for the city.  The whole country had an opinion of what to do for New Orleans. Some said don’t allow the city to rebuild. It was heart wrenching to hear negative public opinion on what do with the city that never sleeps, as it took a nap!

Our home together of ten years had water of about six in a half to seven feet of water.  The water was filled with feces.  It was also the same water that dead bodies laid in for days, even weeks.  The question was asked, what type of jobs will there be and what about the next time.  Next time!!!  I can’t do it any more.  I no longer wanted to be a member of the elite “Hurricane Runners.”  The membership dues had become too high! The mementos and photos of my married life of sixteen years were wiped out.  The mementos, photo’s and most of my children’s trophies for the past thirteen-year were gone as well. Not that the monitory things compare to the loss on memento, however we had all new appliances as well as a new living room set.  None of which was older than two years old.  Wow, everything we worked for was gone!!

 My parent’s life together of forty-five years, gone. Gone was all the things they accumulate from their travels across the world.  Not to mention my mother’s retirement was effective on August 31, 05.   Remember the storm hit August 29.  Happy retirement, mom! My in-laws lost forty-two years of their life together on that stormy day.  I could elaborate on everyone’s loss that I know personally, but it would take a lot to capture everyone’s loss in my story. And in the end, all the “stuff lost” doesn’t MATTER!! Suffice to say the losses go deep.  Documents/pictures of family heritages were lost by many.  Some of us had no insurance, some had not enough, and some had homes paid for and were living on easy street.  I can’t speak for all Katrina victims.  I can only speak for my friend and family.  We had fading memories of “easy street.” 

January ‘06

The day that my husband, daughter and I set out to go home and see our property for the first time in five months was a sad day.  Even with our mind flooded with the images that the media had drilled into our heads, we were not really prepared us for what we saw.

 As we drove into Kenner, Louisiana, the tears began to well up in my eyes.  Kenner had minimum damage and it made me sad at the thought of what I was going to see when I got to New Orleans.  The further we got into our city, the quieter we got in the car.  The visions of cars on top of fences, houses moved off the foundation. Some houses straddled the middle of roadway. Bricks and roofs missing from houses were beyond painful to behold.

  When we arrived at my house it was an unrecognizable area.  I lived in a gated community with beautiful, tall, pine trees.  The beauty had been stripped.  Everything was brown and dying or dead.  There was no sign of life.  There were no bird’s sing or dogs barking. The tears and the sadness had left me by this time.  We had limited time to get into the house and see what was salvageable.  The autopilot kicked in.

 To our relief, we had no roof damage.  Which meant our belongings upstairs where safe.  Unfortunately, most prize processions are downstairs.  However, I was still blessed to be able to retrieve what I could.  I found my sliding glass door broken with a chair straddling the threshold. I suppose it was a good thing.  It allowed our bird a way out.  We had left the cage door open and plenty of food. We knew we would be home in a matter of days. Not!! At least I’m sure the bird didn’t drown! 

  We then drove through streets of our community with shock and disbelief.  We drove through the Kenilworth Park area to see the family park in ruins.   As we made our way to Pines Village (where my parents lived & I grew up), a lump formed in my throat.  Making our way to Academy Park, the devastation seemed to be something out of disaster movie.  Will it ever be the same?  Could it ever be the same?  How long would it take. Especially since former President Bush had not made good on his promises for assistance thus far.

Human Kindness

Next on our list would be getting our property gutted. How to do? How much does it cost to pay someone? Should we just do it ourselves?

We couldn’t really afford to pay anyone very much to gut the house.  In addition, we didn’t have a week to spend down there for us to get it done. It made my head hurt to think about it.

Discussing our plight with my supervisor and co-works one day, they offered to come down for the weekend and gut our home.  I told them no. I didn’t know that well. Plus, I couldn’t ask them to rough it with us. There would be no running water and no were close to get food.  However, they insisted.  My supervisor, .Sharon, her niece, my co-worker Tiffany and Pam planned their pilgrimage.

That was the most physically demanding weekend of my life. We were ripping the wet sheet rock from the frame of my home. We ripped and hauled sheet rock until all our body ached. It was hot and humid.  Wearing painters suits and mask, made us sweat like nobody’s business!!

My gratitude to my co-workers could never be fully express! They did a great job. Had my husband and I did it alone like we planned, we wouldn’t not have finished the job in one weekend! 

On one occasion, I remember talking with my friend, Daphne T.  She had returned home to inspect her home.  She lived across the river, in Gretna.  That area mostly had wind damage and no water.  Once she went into her home she told me she couldn’t believe what she saw.  She had been vandalized.  The crooks took everything from the telephone to her washer and dryer that she had just finished paying for. No, this can’t be.  Criminals preying on victims in a time when we be should have been pulling together.  To have been blessed not to flood was great.  To be robbed at a time like this is unthinkable.

I suppose for the criminal element, the vacant city was one big candy shop as the expense of what other’s have worked so hard for.  Daphne felt violated and really didn’t want to live there anymore. Anyone that has been robbed knows that feeling.

March ‘06     
            Our lives became filled with days that you didn’t want to get out of bed.  Some days, I cried until I was all cried out.  The sense of loss community and friends is so vast.  It seems as many communities would never be restored.  Many friends will not see each other as frequently anymore.  Family gatherings and parties would have to be satirically planned to coordinate to members/friends all over the country.  Sometimes, something would  pop into my mind that I lost and hadn’t thought about before.  For instance, what prompted me to write this were the reflections of my lost art drawings that were in my downstairs closet. After seven months, one’s mind has still not encompassed all the losses.  After seven months the pain is not as sharp as it was in the early months.  However, the pain of loss was still there.

My children’s sense of loss is deep.  I wish I could add their pain to mine so they wouldn’t feel it.  My daughter is a usually reserved when it comes to her feelings.  She to had her breaking point.  When that point came, the dam of tears would not stop for her.  All I could do is hold her and rub her back while she released months of pain and sorrow. My daughter has a few friends that have returned home, including her best friend at the time.  She longed to be with them again.  A few nights I would walk into my son’s bedroom when he was supposed to be sleeping and found him deep in sadness with tears in his eyes.  Both of my children miss our beloved Kenilworth Park.  Our park family was large.  For the past four years, before Katrina our lives revolved around park actives with the children, practically year around.  We walked to the park, rode bikes to the park and socialized.  I missed the park mothers that I socialized with. One mother in particular with her realistic out look on life and quick wit is deeply missed.  Ann would keep me laughing.
At this point, my husband and I have made four trips home with in the past seven months.  For my area, not much as changed.  There is still no electricity.  Some homes have not been touched.  Cars still sit with watermarks and abandoned.  As we drove in our area, every passing car you peep into.  We hope to see a familiar face, someone we hadn’t been able to get in touch with, anyone!

One of our trip home, my father came with us. It was his second trip home. When we went to his home in Pines Village, he was able to see his neighbor, Mike.  Two blocks from my parents home is the school, Immaculate Heart of Mary.  The history of that school and church goes back to the fifties.  My husband and brother in-law attended that school.  My niece, Rayel and my two kids also attended the school.  The school will not reopen.  Many of the Catholic Elementary schools have merged.  That school merged with five other schools.  The weekend we were home was the final farewell to Immaculate Heart of Mary church.  My niece made her first communion there.  My daughter was christened there.  Jessica and Scott both made their first communion at that church.  The closing of that school and church was another stab to the community.

With our decision to stay in Shreveport for a while, my only hope that in time my children would understand.  The pace of Shreveport is slower than New Orleans.  This for the children is a good thing.  The crime is at a minimum. The schools here have aided to our choice of staying here.  My husband and I had contemplated the possibility of moving prior to the storm.  I was difficult because I am a long time employee of the State of Louisiana.  For us the storm just boosted us out.  Please, don’t get me wrong, I love New Orleans and I fully want to see my beautiful city restored.  In fact, I made sure to vote in April 22, 06 election. Yes, the city has its share problems. It’s like a family member, no one is perfect.  We all have flaws, but you still love them just the same!  While Shreveport is okay, I’m sure somewhere in my future I will return to New Orleans for residence.  I transferred my job year here. My husband has found employment.  The people here have been kind.  For now, this is home.

This time of year was hard for me.  In New Orleans, pre-Katrina, we would be spending our springtime days on our deck.  My husband would be grilling something good for us.  My deck lights would be on with music playing in the background.  The apartment that we resided did have a small patio.  However, I could only put one or two chairs and there is no view to mention.  Life had definitely changed.

My family and I have always been up for a road trip.  The last seven months had been filled with way too many road trips.  We travel to Houston to pick up my niece and my aunt and uncle.  We travel back and fourth to Lafayette bringing my godmother to visit.  It seems like every weekend is spent on the road.  This is what our life had become!

My breaking point
April ‘06

Deep in the middle of dealing with FEMA, insurance companies, helping my kids get adjusted to a new place and trying to get myself aclaimated to my new life, my world stopped moving.  I began to slow down. I seemed unable to concentrate on any task that I was trying to perform. Something was wrong. I began to barely be able to make it through my work day. Once I got home, I only had enough energy to crawl in the bed. I would also begin to cry if the wind blew too hard.

I was so busy taking care of everyone else; I forgot to take care of me. The doctor said, I was suffering from depressed. I debated if to put this in my story. But, I realized, I was not alone. 

Never in my life has I experienced such a since of hopelessness. Never in my life had I not had a clue what was going on around me. Yet, here I was spiraling down, I was even unable to drive. I remember one day I was driving and my daughter has to call my attention that I needed to stop the car at a red light. One feels trapped in their own head. It was like I wanted to talk, but it took too much effort. Sleeping was so much easier.

While I was fighting my way back to Karen, I needed something for Karen, Something to keep my mind active.  I began beading. I got a few glass beads and some stretchy stuff. I began to make bracelets.

By the time I returned to work, I was making matching sets. As I sported them at work, my coworkers wanted to purchase them. Out of this Tiger Designs were born. It’s my jewelry designing company of one of kind pieces.  The name of the company is a play on words. My father gave me the nickname Tiger when I was six.  So, Tiger is designing. 

As Katrina victims search for rhyme or reason why our life changed so much, I began to think Tiger Designs was one of the reasons. I’ve never had an interest in making jewelry and probably wouldn’t have tried it had it not been for my depression.

My family and friends where great to me at my time of need. It took almost three months for me to feel like Karen again. I owe all of them so much.

My Daddy

Another family trauma ensued in December 06. My parents drove to Lake Charles, LA. They had Road Home business to attend to.  On their return drive my dad had chest pains.  He was able to make the drive home.  The discomfort had disappeared.  The pain returns two days later. This time he went to the hospital.

No, it was not indigestion or a little discomfort. He was in immediate need of possible triple by-pass. He needed it yesterday!  Surgery was scheduled immediately. The day before my birthday my dad would have surgery. Surgery went fine and only a double by pass was need! Horary! Dad was on his was o recovery! Not!

After he was released and went home to recoup, complications set in. My big, strong, retired military dad had gotten a staph  infection during the surgery. It was so bad, surgery was needed. In January, the doctors would go in an scrap what they could of the bones and treat the rest with medicine. This was turning into a nightmare.  Dad would spend a few weeks in ICU barely conscious. Surviving the type of staff infection that daddy had contracted was rare. We would have to sit, wait and pray. My paran (godfather) and his wife would come to visit. My paran was my dad’s lifetime friend. It was a comfort to have the love and support of everyone. My Nanny (mom’s sister), and my Uncle Clint came as well.

Finally, dad was released. What was left of that mean old staph infection could be treated with medicine. The infection left my dad fragile and weak. His battle with would not end until April 07. God had delivered us through yet another tragedy.  Little did we know that almost a year from this date, we would all be looking into the face of yet more heartache.


My beloved father in love, affectionately known as Paw Paw would suddenly take ill. He did not recover. This was yet another big blow in my young son’s life. Scott’s eye’s where not big enough to see, Paw Paw. He passed with all of his family at his side.

It has now been more then four years since his passing, and yet some days your mind tricks you and I think he is still here with us. It’s funny how the mind works sometimes. 

Yet Another Chapter
August 29, 2012

Almost three years ago, I picked up a paint brush. I stopped painting when I was 21. It took me almost twenty years to go back to painting. I found a new way to deal with my loss of family history. My Life On Canvas was born. I had my first art show in May of 2011. I tell a story with my paintings. I guess its folk art. I paint historic things in New Orleans, important hot spots of days of old to include stuff from my parent’s time. My focus is on things that are/where important to me and people that share the same culture as I do.

Since, Shreveport’s art world has embraced me, I now work on paintings important to Shreveport as well. I have many artist friends in the area. Again, if someone would have told me eight years ago I would find my art fulfilling, sell my paintings, develop a following, start blogging about my art, and have many close friends in the art world, my response would have been, you have the wrong Karen!!!

I have several people that have helped me through my hard transition in Shreveport. Daphne S, has been so wonderful to me! She has been part of my “rock” here. So very glad she is a part of my life! There are many others. You know who you are!

Many say that “us” New Orleanian folks have brought extra flavor to Shreveport affectionately known as the Port City! We had a little spice to the Port City!!

Today is the seven year Anniversary of Katrina. It is now additionally marred with another storm hitting my home today. Hurricane Isaac will also be remembered on this day. Of course, Isaac doesn’t compare to Katrina in no way. Some would just question how the first hurricane to hit New Orleans again since Katrina would arrive on that exact day.

There are many people still suffering from PTSD from Katrina. Many are still trying to recover mentally and financially. I do still question our decision to not move back home. So many good things have happened for us. Great things have happened. But, my children missed the benefit of growing up around the rest of the family. Being so family orientated, this is still a hard pill to digest.

Through all of this mayhem, we are blessed.  My parents, my in-laws including my brother in-law & family are all still here together.  One of my husband’s cousins lived in Shreveport for awhile. Being together helped all of us to get through some rough times.  I’m sure there would come a time when someone in the group would need to/want to move from here.   I am glad for each day that we have in each other’s lives. What’s the saying?  Time heals all wounds!  I don’t know if time can heal all the wounds of Katrina.  I pray that it can.
 The End?

I have worked on this document off and on for seven years. It has been a form of therapy for me. I believe my therapy session has finally come to an end. What better day to end then on the day I started needing it. Do I still miss my family, friends (Rhonda, Pedra, Renee, Sigrid, Daphne T to name a few) and my city, yes! Home is always home…The good the bad the ugly…It is home!!!!!


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