Dear New Orleans Lovers,

The following is an excerpt from Life Storms: Hurricane Katrina.

Life Storms: Hurricane Katrina is a love story to myself and others: untold stories, impetuous growth, gripping challenges, lessons learned, realized miracles, and the immense beauty of it all.

I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana.  And anyone that has visited knows there is a flair and a flavor to the New Orleans culture.

I was an Uptown girl.  I lived on Sycamore Street and Henry Clay Avenue.  I rode the St. Charles Avenue streetcar and ate at The Camellia Grill.  Every Friday evening, our family ate at Petrossi’s Seafood.  My brother, Brent, ordered the same… grilled cheese.

My sister, Tania, and I took the Magazine bus to Canal Avenue.  We ventured downtown and shopped at Woolworths Drugstore.  I stocked up on candy at Uptown Square Shopping Center.  Grabbed an ICEE™ at 7-Eleven.  Delighted in Sunday outings at Plum Street Snowball.  Another pink lemonade please.

We enjoyed Mardi Gras parades on St. Charles Avenue and Tchoupitoulas Street.  The flambeaux carriers lit up the sky with heavy blazing torches.  My enthusiastic mom jumped up and down and naturally the numerous beads followed.

I was literally a hop, skip, and jump away from my next school.  You could cross the street from my grammar school to high school to college.  I attended Holy Name of Jesus, Mercy Academy High School, and Loyola University.  I completed a year at Loyola University Law School but immediately knew that was not for me.  My father and grandfather were lawyers.  And I was engaged to a lawyer.  End of story.

Our house was the one that everyone gravitated toward and where all the action was: an open and revolving door of friends and family members.  My mom was always cooking and cleaning.  My dad was consistently blaring his stereo.  My brother was constantly banging his drums.

But I also remembered the floods: part of life—part of living in an Uptown neighborhood.  In fact, my siblings and I walked home from school in flood water.  Cars couldn’t drive down the streets.  And if they did, they could possibly send waves of rising water into homes.  We walked a mile and a half in flood water.  But guess what?  We didn’t think anything of it.  It’s what we knew.  It’s what we did.

As I child, I remembered the heavy rains, floodwaters, and school closings.  But as an adult, I remember and will always remember Hurricane Katrina.”

And so the love of New Orleans continues and always will.

All love,