It is one thing to see the mounds of destruction, the piles of debris, the scratched trunks of huge oaks where the debris washed past, the scarred remains of a forest full of trunks that stand like toothpicks. Immediately following a storm there are all these things plus the smell. The sheer power of the storm that passed is overwhelming, it is oppressive, it is noticeable to all senses. Six years later can bring lots of recovery. Houses are rebuilt, stores renovated, beaches cleaned. The semi-trailers have been removed from the channels for boat navigation, the cars taken off of Cat Island where there are no roads or bridges. But it is another thing to see where nature has yet to catch up to man and rebuild her ecosystems to their previous grandeur. Forests made of sticks instead of trees, six years on and the destruction still shows.
In previous posts I have discussed the curious actions that survivors become proud of, in particular that of marking the height of the waters. The first time I toured my Uncle's (formerly my grandparent's) house after he completed the renovation of it and had his FEMA trailer hauled off he proudly showed me where he had re-annotated the water height on the replaced siding. It was impressive, especially considering his younger brother had remained inside throughout the storm. This, however, is a completely different level. The picture is a little unclear, as I took it with my iPhone from the car on the side of the road, but this location, near the path the eye took, has a concrete pad, with lights for nighttime illumination that shows a line and reads "Waters of Katrina" in big blue letters. There is no date, no "Hurricane," no further explanation given. Simply the mark, 25 feet above the heads of those reading it that states plainly, you were underwater once.
She left a mark, huge scars, and changed the lives of everyone she touched. Some moved away and stayed, few moved down afterwords, some left temporarily and returned to rebuild. No one was left the same.
Hurricane Katrina, Monday, 29 August 2005.