Arrived from London under the cover of darkness on Christmas day. I’m from New Orleans originally, but I haven’t been back since the apocalypse. Most of the time, I’ve just been driving around looking for the places I used to go when I came home. But, as the song says, “ain’t dere no mo.'” Everybody has a Katrina story. I try to file them away, but my brain is nearly full of stories of devastation, sadness and loss. The stories of hope are few and far between.

Mrs. Camilla is 84. She’s living in a FEMA trailer on Josephene Street in Chalmette. On days of obligation, she walks to church all the way up on Paris Ave. past Judge Perez. She’s rebuilding, but it goes in fits and starts. She’s waiting on money.

Most of my friends have moved to the North Shore, so I take the trip over there several times. My mom now lives in Algiers, and I get lost every time I go to or from her little apartment. Before now, I had been on the West Bank about 5 times in my life.

The last time I was in town, friends were bemoaning the Americanization of New Orleans. I fear that as the city rebuilds, it will lose its character. I’m already seeing it happen. The only thing that seems to have survived is Rite Aid and Walgreens and Walmart. Jesus save us. At least the Saturn Bar is still here.

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