Posts Tagged ‘treme’

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