I’ve been writing a series of essays on the five greatest moments in Saints history, and—coincidentally, I promise, because until Irene the other day I hadn’t even really considered the fact that the Katrinaversary was approaching—I ended up finishing the last one on the anniversary of Katrina. It’s quite fitting. Yes, it’s a look back, and I’m certainly not one of those people who thinks things were all wonderful before the storm and that we should keep harping on it. Quite the contrary. But you can’t write about the best moment in New Orleans Saints history without talking about why it holds that distinction.
So here goes.
A few months after Katrina my mom, my siblings and I drove over the old Twin Span, held together by those temporary aluminum-looking segments that buzzed when you drove over them, and wandered into our old neighborhoods. Our first stop was on Wildair Drive in Gentilly, right off Filmore, where, ringing the house we’d moved out of in 1997, there was a dirty line seven feet above the ground and, next to the door, one of those hieroglyphics I’ve never quite deciphered, with symbols and numbers indicating the place had been searched. There was a number other than zero. I’m not sure if that means someone died there or not.
Over in New Orleans East, we stopped by a house that belonged to some cousins. I dimly recalled a party of some sort taking place here, even though the empty shell, stripped of walls and ceilings, ripped down to its bare frame, hardly looked like the house I remembered—I thought of standing on the front steps while people tossed a football in the quiet street. I don’t know if this memory is even real; I may be crossing it with another party at another family member’s house somewhere else in the city. Such things happen to memories stored in those distant places of your mind, from back when you’re little. Anyway: we stayed in the car. My mom went inside. We lost sight of her. Everything was oppressively silent. An indeterminate period of time later she came back out crying, but crying quietly. It seems that whenever anyone cried, they did it quietly.