Two Cities

New Orleans will forever exist as two cities: The one that existed before that date, and the one after.
The Times Picayune

Every August 29ths, for the last 12 August 29ths since Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana, I’ve awakened with a different attitude. I’m sad some years; others, I’m hopeful. I don’t remember the day the storm hit New Orleans, all but wiping clean my mother’s hometown. I remember the next day. I remember falling on the floor screaming, not knowing what to do. I remember the kindness of friends and strangers. Twelve August 29ths and three strange cities later and I still remember: buckled knees, phone calls that won’t connect, pleas for help sent on my behalf, and boxes. So many boxes.

The things that could be replaced have been and the things that couldn’t, have been mourned. That doesn’t account for today’s sadness. Today, Houston is under water.

Houston, the refuge and new home for so many expatriated New Orleanians, was hit by Hurricane Harvey this past weekend. Though there were no breaches levees, it is still raining. Lives have still been lost and people are still trying to locate loved ones.

Friends, family, and classmates who I searched for after Katrina are marking themselves safe after Harvey and it tears at a raw wound. By and large, New Orleanians still haven’t received therapy for Katrina. To make matters worse, in Houston, evacuating has proven to be a dangerous venture in and of itself.

Today, New Orleans native or not, reach out to your Houston folks. Find out what they need. Signal boost people who are stranded and tweeting their addresses for help. Send money. When mail services are operational again, send boxes. Volunteer to clean up. Mental health professionals, please consider offering free or discounted services. Talk to your employer about coordinating relief efforts. Houston needs us. I remember how many people showed up for New Orleans in body and spirit and implore all of you to reach into your hearts and do it again. Even if you don’t think you can do much, everything helps.