“Nearly 85 percent of the survivors faced a major financial, income, or housing loss, and more than a third endured extreme physical adversity after Katrina struck a year ago and flooded 80 percent of New Orleans, the survey showed. Nearly 23 percent encountered extreme psychological adversity. About 25 percent reported having nightmares about their experiences — a figure that rises to nearly 50 percent for people who lived in New Orleans.”
Worldpress.org, August 29, 2006
QVC became my best friend, after the debris was raked and chopped and bundled and bagged and dragged to the curb to join an ever-growing mountain of stinking household trash all abuzz with coffin flies and crawling with maggots. It soothed me as Blackhawk helicopters buzzed overhead back and forth and back and forth searching for survivors, as church groups came around and cut all the trees out of the street and volunteer workers brought blue tarps for our holey roofs and told us where to get MRE’s and water. It took me to another galaxy where there was no such thing as curfew, military patrols, FEMA trailer parks, empty grocery shelves, lines of empty-eyed people waiting for antidepressants, or so many house fires it wasn’t news anymore. It numbed my brain from thinking about the suicides, elderly drowned sisters found six weeks later, splintered coffins on city streets, abandoned pets starving, and how much longer, Lord, how much more? I sat on the sofa in a sweat-stained stupor watching the cool blonde hostesses, hypnotic and honey-tongued, cooing over the jewelry and the clothes and cosmetics – trying to sell all the stuff I would need in a future where owning things was important and made sense again.
Charlotte Hamrick’s poetry, prose, and photography has been published in The Rumpus, Literary Orphans, Flash Frontier, Foliate Oak, and numerous other journals. She is Creative Nonfiction Editor for Barren Magazine and lives in New Orleans with her husband and a menagerie of rescued pets. Follow her on Twitter @charlotteAsh.