There Were No Birds

by Doug Holloway

KATRINA hit New Orleans in September 2005. I went to New Orleans with Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition in October 05. I had hoped to help the city rebuild and recover and I hoped for a job for myself. Jesse Jackson or noone else could've prepared me for what I was to see. The closer we got to our destination, the more destruction I saw. As our caravan crossed the lake and the bridge over Ponchartrain, the first thing I noticed was the height of the waterlines on the support pillars of the bridge. When we were further into the city, the enormity of the destruction became more apparent. I learned the markings on the doors of some homes, were codes for the number of bodies of people and pets found in the houses that had structurally survived Katrina. Then the most profound acknowledgement of all, there were no birds. On the roofs of houses, on the telephone lines, just flying in the air, THERE WERE NO BIRDS!

As we got closer to downtown New Orleans, I couldn't help but wonder had I made a mistake. The "fire fighter's code" is, "We try to go in places that everyone with good sense is trying to get out of." That was the feeling I was getting now. The tricycles in the yard, the cars with their hoods still up, the open doorways of the empty houses, stood as testaments that once there had been life, but now "THERE WERE NO BIRDS."

I had to leave New Orleans in December 2005 because I was bitten by a spider that nearly killed me. Since Katrina had wiped out all the hospitals in New Orleans I was medivaced to Metarie for several surgeries and then Amtracked home to Memphis for follow up care.

I've been back to New Orleans a couple of times since I left and always with regrets and trepidation. The things I saw there I will never forget. Sometimes man can be just as cruel as nature and Katrina and politics have taken their toll on The Crescent City. Its good to know there are those who wish to return to their homes in New Orleans.

Perhaps the birds will return also.

There Were No Birds by Doug Holloway

© Copyright 2006. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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