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Thursday, June 19, 2008

AWAY AT LAST

Our plane touched down just before 10 tonight. Getting a taxi was easy enough and there was almost no traffic between the airport and downtown. And as I'm being driven into town, I'm taken back to my last trip to New Orleans in 2005. It was about 5 months before Katrina hit.

As we pass through the outlying communities, I think back to the aftermath of the hurricane. I was working in Texarkana and the city was full of evacuees from New Orleans. I didn't know where Metairie was the last time I came here. But now I can't stop thinking about the man from Metairie who fled to Texarkana and was working out of donated office until he was allowed to return home. Or the girl who lived in the Lower 9th Ward who got separated from her family and had to sleep on top of a freeway overpass and was eventually reunited with her parents in Texarkana. Or the man who stayed in the Superdome and simply said, "I'm alone" when I asked him how he's holding up.

I don't know where these people are now. Don't know if they've returned here. From the nighttime drive from the airport, it's hard to see anything different here. I'm staying in the French Quarter, and the area was spared the flooding that other neighborhoods saw.

But it stands to reason that the city is different. Will I be able to notice? I don't know.

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