The Katrina Soundtrack

When Katrina hit, I lived in Baton Rouge. My daughter was eight years old. You wonder how a eight year old, a hundred miles away from landfall, would be affected. You would be amazed. Life for everyone in the city changed overnight. The influx of people was beyond comprehension. Double your city’s population within twenty-four hours and see how things go. There was a different type of devastation brought upon Baton Rouge that should be it’s own story one day.

There were an incredible number of families that evacuated New Orleans. Where does an entire school system for a population of a million go over night? No school system can handle that. Some how, Baton Rouge did. We did what had to be done. Some schools put temporary dividers in rooms, and one classroom became two. At my daughter’s school, a class of 16 became 32. She went to a private school. There were no entry requirements. We just took children and families in.

This story is about one family. An affluent New Orleans family. They evacuated and came to Baton Rouge. Their daughter was in the same grade as my little girl. They assimilated. While there were insane dynamics going on in the city, things that you wouldn't believe in a post apocalyptic hurricane panic, my daughter and their daughter continued to learn. School for the children and for the teachers was the priority.

Then one day, months later, things settled down. The emergency was over. Some, especially the wealthy, could go home to New Orleans. Public schools were still decimated, but private schools were alive. The families that were with us for half of the year were gone. We helped them, we took them in, we loved them, but then they were gone. Who can blame someone for going home? That’s where we all want to be.

Then there was the Z family. I don’t remember their name other than it started with a Z and seemed to have to many consonants for me to pronounce correctly. I just remember them as the Z’s. The father was a New Orleans physician. Their daughter quickly became loved by the whole class, and fit in perfectly. But at some point, it was time for them to go home. They were part of the family, and were immediately missed. As they left, they presented everyone in the class with a CD. Yes, it was still the CD era. A CD that chronicled their escape from Katrina. It’s an amazing compilation. They could have just said, “Thank You. Thank you for taking us, and our daughter in.”, but this was so much better. A “Thank You” is something that is said and heard only once. I listen to a song from this CD weekly. It helps me remember a few things.

You must take care of those in need.
Be thankful, and let them, whoever they are, know you’re thankful.

I want you to think of a family, just like yours, forced out of your home for months. So much difficulty around you. People will take you in. When they do, be as perfect as the Z’s. As families, we did what we thought was right during Katrina. Our sons and daughters shared their school to help others. They learned valuable lessons. We all did. It was a terrible time, but also an amazing time.

Want to listen to the Z’s soundtrack of Katrina? Here it is on Spotify.

Born In New Orleans — Paul Soniat
Sunday Morning — Maroon 5
Everybody Hurts — R.E.M.
Good People — Jack Johnson
Like a Rolling Stone — The Rolling Stones
Lean on Me — Bill Withers
Sitting in Limbo — Jimmy Cliff
Like Dreamers Do — The Radiators
Back Home — Eric Clapton
I Will Not Be Denied — Bonnie Raitt
Live For Today — Natalie Grant
Stand — R.E.M.
No City Like New Orleans — Earl King (not on Spotify)
Mardi Gras Mambo — The Meters
Brother John/Iko Iko — The Neville Brothers
Jambalaya — Tab Benoit
Goin’ Back To New Orleans — Dr. John

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Sean Montgomery’s story.