Posts Tagged ‘new orleans’

10th Anniversary of Katrina – A Letter From My Heart

Monday, July 20th, 2015

The 10th Anniversary of Katrina Letter

Hurricane Katrina Metal Wall Sculpture

Hurricane Katrina Metal Wall Sculpture

Well, y’all, here it is 10 years later. Some of you started shopping with me right after the storm and have kept up with my Katrina updates through the years. I was journaling updates each year on my blog until 2010. After 2010, I think I was beginning to feel that the updates were no longer needed because New Orleans was very much back on her feet. If you missed some of my updates which includes photographs documenting the devastation and REBUILD, please visit this link http://blog.hedesigns.com/category/katrina-anniversaries/

The city has been born anew. We have more restaurants than we even had before Katrina. We are breaking tourism records left and right. And, most importantly, we have a much stronger set of pumps in place to protect the city against a very strong storm. But, let me say that all bets are off if a Cat 3 or higher storm comes barreling up the Mississippi. If a Cat 3 comes to visit us in New Orleans, I will be evacuating before you can say, “gumbo,” three times!

So, where are we 10 years later after Katrina? Here is how I see just a few things:

A new headache for many New Orleanians: on-going road construction. The road construction is so important. In many places it is being done to lay HUGE pipes underground to get the water siphoned off to pumping stations. This will help keep the city dry! The men doing this job are breaking their backs in oppressive heat & bitter cold to get the work done. We bemoan driving around uptown b/c they blocked off by a labyrinth of street barricades. (I am guilty of this myself!) Driving uptown forces us to throw our hands up in frustration. But, when this happens, remember where we were 10 years ago! (a sobering thought) And, remember all of the aggravation will benefit the city & our families greatly in the long run…this too shall pass.

Now, for some of the “yucky” stuff…An unexpected feeling has set upon me on this 10th anniversary. A feeling of some uneasiness about where New Orleans is headed Post Katrina. Now, remember I am sharing these feelings as a 5th generation New Orleanian. I have the city so deeply engrained in my blood that I based my entire business upon it back in 2002. So, what I am about to say does not come easy for me. Just a few months after Katrina hit, I heard someone say, “New Orleans is going to become a boutique city. Cost of living is going to go through the roof compared to what it was before the storm. Just you wait and see.” I didn’t take it much to heart at the time. I was too focused on the re-building of the city and my business. But, 10 years later those words ring so loudly in my ears. 10 years later so many multi generational New Orleans families have been forced out of their neighborhoods. Old buildings are being completely renovated and given totally different facades. There are actually some parts of Magazine Street that I don’t even recognize from 10 years ago! It’s a bizarre and unsettling feeling. Recently, someone told me they thought parts of the city were beginning to look like Orlando! A sobering thought. Seriously, though, real estate is going sky high and commanding prices many of us can no longer afford. Rent is going up right along with it. People are being pushed out of neighborhoods that have lived there for generations because of skyrocketing property taxes and rent. Then, to add further insult, some homes are not being rented out anymore by long term tenants. Instead, homes are being listed on websites such as airbnb so the property owners can get $2000+ PER night rather than a monthly rent. And, no I am not kidding. I have actually seen these ads. Again, I hear my friends voice from 10 years ago talking about us becoming a, “boutique city.” The impact upon our deeply rooted community is huge. It is a valid concern that many will not be able to continue living in the city of New Orleans if these trends continue. I suppose we shall see what happens in 10 more years…

For those wondering why I didn’t design a piece of jewelry to commemorate the 10th Anniversary – I guess it’s because I am still ambivalent about the events that took place 10 years ago. In many ways, I still don’t have closure and I don’t know that I ever will. My jewelry designs come from a HAPPY place when I think about my native city. Katrina was absolutely biblical in the level of devastation she unleashed. It is not an event I wish to design my jewelry around. When I think of Katrina, I think of the massive loss of life that took place during the storm (both human and animal). And, I also think about the lives lost in the aftermath of the REBUILD from sheer stress and grief. To this very day, customers come into my tent at art markets & sometimes will begin to cry as they look at my jewelry. They share their story of Katrina loss with me. My work continues to touch a deep emotional chord for many. So, my personal feeling is that we don’t need a piece of jewelry to remind us how far we have come. The daily REBUILD in New Orleans is in itself a commemoration of Katrina 10 years later! Just look around and see the celebration of a city come back to life! So, I will continue to focus on the HAPPY events in New Orleans to inspire my jewelry designs. Focusing upon the rejuvenation of New Orleans instills positive energy into my jewelry and ultimately for the wearer of my work! After all, the last thing I would want is for someone to get bad ju-ju from my jewelry. So, no Katrina Anniversary jewelry for me, y’all…too many awful, sad memories…

I suppose it’s time to wrap up my 10th Anniversary post. I guess you could say I have a bittersweet perspective on the state of New Orleans 10 years Post Katrina. There have been some wonderful turn of events in the past 10 years and some more recent ones that have me very concerned. All in all though, I am beyond pleased to see my city rise up from the ashes of Katrina. It’s been a tough REBUILD at times, but one that has made the city better in many regards. I will continue to make New Orleans jewelry that comes straight from my heart. New Orleans continues to serve as one of my greatest inspirations and she always will. She is my heart and soul.

Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who shopped with me after the storm and helped me to build my business & life back. I hope some of you are reading this post. Please give yourselves a HUGE hug for me. I truly love each of you and I simply can’t thank each of you enough. The love and support I received from so many will never be forgotten for the rest of my days…saying I am eternally grateful just somehow doesn’t suffice for me.

Much New Orleans Love to All.

Heather Elizabeth

* PS – An interesting development since I wrote this post. I delivered an order to one of my shops in the Quarter. I was talking to an employee there and before I knew it, he told me he had been asked to vacate his French Quarter apartment. Why you ask? So, that it could turned into a short term rental. His landlord preferred quick cash of a short term rental over a long term & stable tenant. This validates the fears that I shared in the above post. Short term rentals such as air b n b pose a serious threat to New Orleanians who are committed to living here for the LONG TERM. Thanks again for listening…NOLA xox

Father’s Day Gifts New Orleans Style!

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

My hand crafted New Orleans night lights, wine stoppers and cufflinks make GREAT gifts for Dad! Please make sure to check out the following stores which carry my work:

What’s New on Decatur Street
Historic New Orleans Collection on Royal Street
Little Miss Muffin on Harrison Ave & Metairie Road
Forever New Orleans on Royal Street
Simply Southern on Hwy 21 in Covington
Perino’s on Veterans Highway in Metairie
PLUM on Magazine Street
New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park on Diboll Circle

I am working hard in the studio make Christmas 2015 stock already! I will have some new designs coming out. So stay tuned!

Have a great Father’s Day y’all!

The Original New Orleans Night!

The Original New Orleans Night!

New Orleans cufflinks make a Great Father's Day gift!

New Orleans cufflinks make a Great Father’s Day gift!

Wine stoppers with New Orleans flair! Make great gifts for Father's Day!

Wine stoppers with New Orleans flair! Make great gifts for Father’s Day!

Christmas in June at Summer Art Market! Saturday, June 29th

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

NOLA Tile Christmas Ornament

NOLA Tile Christmas Ornament

Its’s getting warm outside, but I will make it worth your while to come to the Arts Market of N.O. on Saturday, June 29th! I will have my collectible New Orleans ornaments marked down half price for this June show only. Now is the time to come get some of your favorite Christmas ornaments half price. Ain’t Dere No More, School & Church ornaments! And, everything comes with gift boxing. Just look for the Heather Elizabeth Designs tent. I will have lots of signs out so you can find me easily!

    The Where N When:

Arts Market of New Orleans
Saturday, June 29th
10am to 4pm
Palmer Park, Corner of Carrollton and Claiborne
More Details Click Here

Summer 2012…Time in the Studio!

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

I can’t even believe that this past June was my 10 year anniversary of being in business. Time is really flying. A hearty to thanks to all of you who have supported my local NOLA business through these years. I am deeply appreciative. Presently, I am off for the hotter months of the Summer and working on new stock. I will be back out at the art markets in September. Please make sure to come see me b/c I will have Christmas items on SALE!

Sat, Sept 29th
Arts Market of New Orleans
Palmer Park
Corner of Carrollton and Claiborne
10-4pm

Also, if you missed my interview with the Examiner, please take a moment to read it here

And, remember, if you can’t get to me during the Summer, please shop at one of the local stores listed here

April 2012 Art Markets

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

The Original Ain't Dere No More Bracelet

The busy Spring festival season is here & Mother’s Day will be here before you know it. Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 13th. We have the perfect gift for the die hard NOLA Mom. Or the perfect jewelry to sport your NOLA pride at Jazz Fest!

Wednesday, April 11th
Wednesdays at the Square Concert Series
Artist Village
Lafayette Square in CBD
5:00p – 8:00pm

Saturday and Sunday, April 14th and 15th
City Park Botanical Garden Show
City Park Botanical Gardens
1 Palm Drive in City Park
10:00a – 5:00pm

Wednesday, April 18th
Wednesdays at the Square Concert Series
Artist Village
Lafayette Square in CBD
5:00p – 8:00pm

Saturday, April 21st ***Rescheduled due to Jazz Fest***
Arts Market of New Orleans
Palmer Park, corner of Carrollton and Claiborne
10:00a – 4:00pm

Wednesday, April 25th
Wednesdays at the Square Concert Series
Artist Village
Lafayette Square in CBD
5:00p – 8:00pm

5th Katrina Anniversary Letter

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Heather Elizabeth in Lower Ninth Ward 2010

This letter is dedicated to New Orleans artist John Scott who died shortly after Hurricane Katrina.

Please note: Below are my pictures of New Orleans present day and from 2005 shortly after Katrina hit. It is not until now that I share many of my 2005 photos with the public.  I hope my 2005 photos serve to highlight both our Katrina successes and failures in 2010. It is with greatest respect for all New Orleanians alive and dead that I share these pictures with you. Many of our neighborhoods are now hallowed ground. It is my sincerest hope that my fellow New Orleanians will see just how far we have come, but at the same time never forget 8/29/2005. Peace be with you all.

Dear customers and friends,

It is time for me to write my annual Katrina Anniversary letter. Every year this letter is a process like giving birth. It takes me weeks to compose. Many of you reading this have become dear friends. I want to take this moment to thank each of you for supporting my small NOLA business during the last 8 years. Heather Elizabeth Designs wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for y’all.

What has happened since my last Katrina anniversary letter? Well, New Orleans was coming back Post-K with a vengeance. The Saints won the Super Bowl! Native New Orleanians joked about this happening for years. We would say to each other, “Can you imagine if the Saints won the Super Bowl?!?”  When the city realized the Saints were going to the Super Bowl, there was a frenzy of excitement everywhere.  December 2009 and January 2010 were magical months to live in New Orleans. Who could have imagined such a serendipitous event for New Orleans after August 29, 2005? Simply put, the 2009 Saints Super Bowl win helped New Orleanians continue to heal from Katrina.

Another wonderful event was New Orleans got a new mayor! Mitch Landrieu became our mayor after we won the Super Bowl. Mitch has always been a real friend to New Orleans. He believes in this city and her people. When you talk to Mitch about New Orleans his love of this region is palpable.  His win only helped to cement the fact that New Orleans could look toward a brighter future.

Then, the BP oil catastrophe happened. Not in my recent memory could I remember such a loss of life on an oil rig. Day-by-day things gradually worsened in our beloved Gulf of Mexico.  Our wetlands, coast and wildlife were ensconced in black oily muck. When pictures of oiled wild life were finally published, it was all New Orleanians could talk about. We couldn’t believe our beloved brown pelican was covered in oil! It was more than many of us could stand to watch. And, then there was the ongoing decimation to our seafood industry from the spill. Fishermen that had been fishing for 6 plus generations were losing their livelihoods.

As we were dealing with the ongoing tragedy out in the Gulf, we learned 2010 would be a bad hurricane season. Meteorologists forecasted that our hurricane season could be like that of 2005. This was all you needed to send people down here into an absolute Post-Katrina melt down. We knew that oil was everywhere in the Gulf. We also knew that if a hurricane hit with oil in the Gulf, we would have a catastrophe on our hands that would make Katrina look like a cakewalk.

Now, let’s fast forward to the present…

It appears the well is capped. But, the repercussions of it will be felt for a long time to come. (that is another letter! LOL) We are praying for 2010 to be a year in which we do not have to evacuate and the damned well stays plugged. As long as we have no hurricanes or oil spills, New Orleans may carry on with her miraculous REBIRTH. The New Orleans Saints didn’t call it quits and they won the Super Bowl! New Orleanians won’t call it quits either. We will keep fighting for this city as those before us have done for the last 292 years and we will win this battle, too!

On a lighter note, I am very proud to share with you some encouraging information regarding New Orleans tourism Post Katrina. Pre-Katrina we had 8.5 million visitors a year.  Our numbers have slowly crept back up. By 2009 we had reached 7.5 million tourists! This is great news for our city. Then, Arthur Hardy, our local Mardi Gras expert, says Mardi Gras is back to Pre-K levels.  Also,  New Orleans was rated  #1 for Night Light by Trip Advisor and #7 for top places to visit by Travel & Leisure Magazine. All of these things are a testament to the fortitude of the people of New Orleans.

New Orleanians are a strong people with huge heart.  If you aren’t lucky enough to call this crazy place home, please come and visit us. The music, food, and people are just as wonderful as they ever were. There is place set especially for you at our table.  Please come join us in our rebuilding & celebration of life in this one of a kind American city.

* you may view an archive of my previous Katrina anniversary letters from the last 5 years here

Much New Orleans love,

Heather Elizabeth


Summer 2010 Update…

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Hi everybody! I am off during the hotter summer months from the art markets. Please visit the local shops which sell my work until I get back out to the art markets again in September. I will have some new items available in the Fall which I am very excited about. So, please check back with me often! Also, you may stay in touch with me via Facebook or Twitter for product updates and just all around GOOD NOLA news!

April 2010 Art Market Schedule

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Come see me at one of the remaining April art markets! I will have some items on SALE! Also, please note every Wednesday, I will be at the Weds at the Square Artist Village through June 2010. Come say HI and get some great Mother’s Day gifts!

Bywater Art Market

Saturday, April 17th (10am-4pm)

Location: Markey Park at the corner of Royal & Piety Streets
http://www.bywaterartmarket.com

Wednesday at the Square Artist Village
Wednesday, April 21st
5-7:30pm
Lafayette Square, St. Charles Avenue
http://www.wednesdayatthesquare.com

Arts Market of New Orleans
Saturday, April 24th (10am – 4pm)
Location: Palmer Park (S. Carrollton Ave. at Claiborne Ave.)
http://www.artscouncilofneworleans.org

Wednesday at the Square Artist Village
Wednesday, April 28th
5-7:30pm
Lafayette Square, St. Charles Avenue
http://www.wednesdayatthesquare.com

What does the SAINTS Superbowl win mean to me?

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

As many of you know, I have been very sick. Unfortunately, I am not able to attend the historic SAINTS Super Krewe tonight. I am doing the next best thing and watching it live on tv. I am crying b/c 4 1/2 years ago I could not have imagined the SAINTS winning the Super Bowl nor a SAINTS parade that would rival the likes of Endymion. Any of us who grew up in New Orleans or has lived here long enough has heard, “Can you imagine what would happen if the SAINTS ever won the Super Bowl?” Well, now we are so fortunate to finally be in that number! All I can think about is when I was evacuated to Tulsa for 3 1/2 months. During those early days of evacuation I was enveloped in the deepest depths of sadness. I didn’t know where many of my family and friends were. Simply put, I didn’t even know if some of my friends were alive. I know many of you reading this experienced the most wretched of circumstances.  As I watch these floats roll down Poydras Street in front of the Superdome, I am filled with great joy. I can remember seeing the flood water enveloping the Dome as I watched helplessly from Tulsa. Now, I sit here and watch our beloved SAINTS victorious in a SUPER BOWL and parading down our once flooded streets. This is such a historic and beautiful night. I know all those SAINTS fans up in heaven are smiling down on us now. New Orleans is living proof that the hardest of obstacles can be overcome. New Orleans is rising up because of her people and I love each and every one of you.

WHAT A WONDERFUL TIME TO BE A NEW ORLEANIAN!! WHO DAT, baby!!!???!!!

4th Anniversary of Katrina Update

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Dear friends, every year I write a Katrina Anniversary letter.  It’s been 4 years since she hit and New Orleans had federal levee failures which flooded our city.  There has been lots of healing over these years, but there is still much healing to be done.  I guess the same could be said of our rebuilding as well.

I watched a Weather Channel special two nights ago with Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News and his Katrina experience. As I watched it took me back to those horrible weeks that followed August 29th, 2005.  It was a tenuous time for New Orleanians.  Those of us lucky enough to have evacuated watched helplessly from afar as our city and her people struggled to live.  And, I mean that quite literally!  It was the most helpless feeling I have had in my entire life.

I evacuated to stay with my older sister in Tulsa, OK.  She was the only one in my family to leave New Orleans.  I was very sad to see her leave many years ago, but now her home in Tulsa was my only saving grace.  I was so relieved on that day in early September when I got her phone call at the hotel.  I was exhausted from watching hours on end of my city being destroyed.  On the verge of an all out breakdown, the phone rang.  It was my sister saying, “Pack your things and come live with me in Tulsa.”

I got to Tulsa along with my two dogs and boyfriend.  (my mother in father were elsewhere. long story!) I remember being in her backyard with my dogs.  Relieved to be out of a hotel, but emotionally distraught about what my future would be. Her neighbor peered over the fence and started to talk with me.  He worked for an electrical company in Tulsa.  He proceeded to tell me, “Yeah. I just talked to a friend and he told me that the main electrical grid for New Orleans is destroyed. It may be 6 months or longer before it is repaired.”  I couldn’t tell you what that man said after that.  I just stood there dumbfounded and sickened to my stomach.  It’s a feeling I hope to never have again in my life.  All I could think about was HOME.  New Orleans.

I ended up being evacuated for 3 1/2 months in Tulsa. I was home just in time for Thanksgiving.  That was a very special Thanksgiving for our family in 2005.  I remember on the ride home from Tulsa we came to point where the Cypress trees grow in the swamp.  Yes, many of our beautiful ancient Cypress trees were cracked in half by Katrina’s wind, but they were still standing.  Just as they had been for hundreds of years.

One of my dogs died while I was evacuated in Tulsa. She came evacuated with us, but an unfortunate accident occurred and I had to put her to sleep.  It has taken me 4 years to get another dog.  Louis (named after Louis Armstrong and Louis XIV) will not ever replace my Boo, but he is an integral part of my healing process.  Dealing with the aftermath of Katrina and then to lose one of my dogs was almost more than my soul could bear.  I suppose I got through it all by grace of God.

I go back to Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News.  After we got back home to NOLA, he would come quite often to give the country updates about Katrina recovery.  One evening, we found out he was here and where he was reporting from! We drove like mad in the car to get to him. We got there just in time to see him finish his news report.  He was reporting from the London Avenue Canal breech in Gentilly.  And, I remember Harry Lee sitting in a chair nearby.  This neighborhood was besieged with over 8 feet of water.  When Brian Williams was done, I went over to thank him for his commitment to NOLA.  I couldn’t get 4 words out before I was overwhelmed with grief.  Mr. Williams gave me hug and held me for a moment. He said, “Everything is going to be o.k.”  I will not forget his words.

We still have much rebuilding to do. As I have said in past Katrina letters, our rebuild is marathon not a sprint.  Every few months a grocery store, library or post office opens.  New Orleanians rejoice at these events b/c we know what it is like for them to be gone.

It has taken me 4 years to deal with the emotional trauma of Katrina.  Only months ago did I begin to write down my memories of the storm.  I still haven’t finished doing it. I have to stop sometimes b/c it is just too hard to remember those things.  But, it is helpful.  If any of you reading this are trying to come to grips with your Katrina baggage, I highly recommend writing it down.  It’s been a great release for me. Also, it is very important for all of us to document history for future generations.

I will close with a few words.  Any of my fellow New Orleanians who are back at home and struggle with our recovery remember the words Brian Williams said to me, “Everything will be o.k.”

8/28/2009 Development: CNN Headline News called me today about my Ireport that I had posted on their network.  They asked if they could do an interview today.  Of course, I was thrilled to talk about New Orleans. Click here for the video of the interview I did with Chuck Roberts and click here to read their blog about my 4th Anniversary letter which you are reading now.  Thank you for not forgetting New Orleans, CNN!

And, for those interested in my handcrafted NOLA photograph jewelry and accessories for the home, please click here.

Much New Orleans Love to All,

Heather Elizabeth