Posts Tagged ‘short term rentals’

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