September 2006

It is hard to believe that it has been a year since Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast. We are upon the anniversary of one of the most destructive events in our country in modern times. Everywhere we go, people ask us “How are you doing? How is New Orleans doing?” These continue to be very hard questions to answer.
New Orleans is still a very hard place to live in and as all the “experts” tell us, it will be that way for years to come. It is a constant struggle for those of us who live here. Even if you did not lose your home or business, you were still hit with the constant barrage from all sides calling attention to the loss of a way of life. The city of New Orleans as we know her is lost and we grieve for that. The Post Katrina Syndrome is a real thing and the survivors here suffer the mental and emotional anguish that it brings.
The people of New Orleans are waiting for a cohesive plan for the revival of our city. Living in New Orleans is similar to having a loved one in an intensive care unit; you wait and wait for a doctor to tell you what is wrong and what the course of action will be for the patient to get better. Our wait has been a year and we still have not gotten the answer.
To the uninitiated, many areas of New Orleans still look like a third world country. Whole neighborhoods are deserted, basic services have not been re-established, and the signs of recovery are slow. But for those of us who have been here, the signs of change are evident. After a disaster of this magnitude, simple things are celebrated: functioning traffic lights, trash piles slowly disappearing, the smell of a fresh rain instead of the stench of rotten debris, roads cleared of mangled homes. This is what was taken for granted before and is now noticed.
There are still years of recovery ahead, but optimism is a way to keep your sanity. People are rebuilding by themselves and slowly pulling their lives together. Hopefully, the lessons learned from this catastrophe will be used to help future victims throughout the country. We now watch the Gulf with a meteorological awareness instead of a casual eye. New Orleans has gone from a city with cultural uniqueness, a joie de vivre, and a special place, to one that is associated with a disaster that has lost its innocence. The potential of building a better city is large but there is much work to be done. We are welcoming tourists and visitors as hotels, restaurants, and businesses re-open. The French Quarter and Garden District are open and inviting visitors to see our re-birth.
Personally, we are able to go on with our lives in this “new normal” and reflect on the outpouring of help and kindness from friends and strangers alike. It is at times overwhelming and humbling to know that we will help each other in times of need. Words of thanks don’t seem like enough. We are looking ahead to the future and feel fortunate to have all that we have.

An interesting letter from a happy customer:

Hi Mark:

We spoke with you yesterday at Jazz Fest. Here’s the photo I mentioned with your bowl on our dining room table, exactly where I left it before the storm. The table must have floated around the dining room for days, as we got about 8 feet in our home. The bowl now has a place of honor in our temporary home in the Warehouse District!