Seven years ago, this place sat under water. Salt and freshwater mingled with gasoline and cleaning chemicals. People sat on rooftops, dehydrated, surrounded by water. The media declared it the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. Ordinary men and women stepped in while the government floundered.
However, despite what you may have heard, reports of NOLA’s demise were greatly exaggerated.
Seven years later, I stand in New Orleans and I cannot fathom what happened here, even though I saw it all play out on the news; even though I smelled the mold and touched the water marks. It feels distant, like a memory of something from your childhood that you aren’t certain really took place. The past is not buried here, nor is it on display. In New Orleans, they have struggled with their past and overcome it. They have turned defeat into victory and death into new life.
Katrina happened. It was painful. But the proud citizens of this city have risen above and have built a new future, one that is not defined by the hurricane. New Orleans is dynamic. Scrappy. Tough. Up from the ashes and stronger than before; hardened by adversity. Proof that life can return to a place once abandoned.
Rebuilding is arduous, but giving up was never an option. Because a place like this needs to be here. It is not enough to survive — it is destined to thrive. And this weary traveler is glad it has.
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Jonny Eberle is a writer and dreamer in Flagstaff, AZ. In his free time, he travels great distances to help run shows for 34,000 attendees.