Remembering Katrina

I can’t believe its been 5 years since Katrina struck Louisiana. I remember it as clear as if it were yesterday. Although we live in Baton Rouge, my cousins had just moved to New Orleans. They moved in on the 27th and evacuated to Houston on the 28th. But that’s another story.

Over night, Baton Rouge became a city almost twice its size. Evacuees stayed with friends, family, hotels, or shelters. Traffic in the city came to a crawl. When TV coverage in New Orleans focused on people at the Superdome, rumors about rioting in downtown Baton Rouge spread like wild-fire. LSU even closed down one day early because of the rumors.

But the most haunting memory for me remains the sounds of ambulance sirens and helicopters swirling about, bringing in the injured and sick to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (or PMAC), the LSU basketball arena, which had become the largest acute care field hospital ever created in US history for Katrina, and then Rita.  While I grew used to these sounds when I was a grad student in Los Angeles, my new home city was devoid of this audio backdrop.  These sounds, the hospital, the need for volunteers persisted for months long after the storms had past. These reminders of the storm’s human toll has never left me.

Was this a natural disaster or a man-made catastrophe? For me, this was a human tragedy whose impact cannot be forgotten.

I will always remember this day.


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