~ Tim's ~ Nameless ~ Blog ~

Monday, December 04, 2006

Bright little FEMA travel trailer

More than 15 months after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the coast and New Orleans, we remain in dark times.

Rows of houses that once glowed in the early evening with the warm light of family and community now sit dark and cold in the blighted neighborhoods of the city. Their windows, like empty eye sockets, stare blindly at the streets that are for the most part devoid of life and passersby.

Street lights and traffic signals are a not a given. Some whole streets grow dark when the sun sets and stay dark. Some intersections simply blink with tentative reds and yellows all day long; nobody gets the green light here.

The street lights of my neighborhood, Vista Park, are for the most part operating. But the houses remain unlit. The chill that moved across New Orleans this week personifies the lifeless state of homes here. Repaired homes are few, and FEMA travel trailers are widely spaced along the suburbanesque streets.

But squatting conspicuously (almost defiantly) amid the destruction, is our boxy little FEMA travel trailer, lit up like Times Square.

New Orleans Christmas in a FEMA travel trailer

It’s one of those odd turn of events: because the flood water stopped just inches from the ceiling of our former home, we lost most everything except what was in the attic. We might not have the furniture and the records and the books and the clothes and the linens and the mementos and the pots and pans and every-damn-thing-else of sentimental and practical value, but doggone it—we’ve got Christmas decorations!

This weekend, I climbed a ladder and strung five strings of “icicle” lights all the way around our cubist abode. My Darling Wife thinks it makes the place look beautiful. It was an odd feeling, putting up those same lights that used to ring my house on a trailer, a borrowed trailer that sits just twenty feet from where my home used to be.

All around us sit the empty, rotting carcasses of the flood-ravaged homes or the wide vacant lots where the houses have been removed. The full moon paints their decomposing shells in a melancholy patina.

But here there is light and life. As we approach the deepest, darkest day of winter, we join in the worldwide celebration of the season of lights.

Like so much I do in New Orleans post-Katrina, it’s a sad but celebratory moment. A chance to recall once again how much is lost, and how much remains. A chance to remember that it’s not at all about the buildings--the mere wood and bricks and glass and carpet--that made this a nice neighborhood. It was the warmth and light of the people that made these houses special, that made this city shine.

No, there are not a lot of lights here. But there are certainly more than last year, and less than next year. For now, this bright little FEMA travel trailer will have to suffice.

16 comment(s):

Beautiful Tim!

I'm taking some light to our Gentiily home and trailer just to get some sense of the Season of Lights on our street. It'll make a difference there.

By Anonymous GentillyGirl, at 12/05/2006 12:37 AM  

Tim,

I followed the links back to your blog from your comment on mine. First, thanks so much. Your criticism of those (including me, to a degree) who tend to write off the city is well-taken. I'm going to put a link to your blog on mine, and I'm going to spend some time reading before I mouth off any more about Da City.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/05/2006 8:28 AM  

Tim,
Keep the faith, once you've hit bottom, the only way out is up.

By Anonymous Bill, at 12/05/2006 10:37 AM  

Once again you shine a ray of hope through this dark time for New Orleans. Thank you.

By Blogger judyb, at 12/05/2006 11:34 AM  

Keep the faith. Keep reminding the rest of us to keep the faith. It's always an inspiration reading you - especially knowing all the loss you've suffered.
Blessings to you and yours in this season of light!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/05/2006 12:32 PM  

Tim, you and the family DESERVE a wonderful Christmas. I'm glad the lights are there.

By Anonymous ashley, at 12/05/2006 12:43 PM  

Next year, the works!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/05/2006 8:50 PM  

Great post, as usual.

We too have our Christmas decorations, but we still have no power at our trailer. The blackout continues.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/06/2006 12:17 PM  

Making me cry at work again, you are! Great post, Tim! HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU ALL!!!

By Anonymous Sophmom, at 12/06/2006 2:22 PM  

Ho ho ho!

By Blogger Ray in New Orleans, at 12/06/2006 5:58 PM  

Great post, Tim. I must admit it scares me when Ray uses a word like ho...

By Anonymous Adrastos, at 12/07/2006 8:56 AM  

Hi Tim, I just found your blog and wanted to thank you for continuing to write about life post Katrina. May I place a link to your blog from mine? I am a volunteer, not a resident and, while I do not get lots of hits, still get some and would like to send people your way. Please let me know. Thanks and hang in there.

By Blogger Heathcare for Peace, at 12/07/2006 1:14 PM  

the decorations are beautiful!--a symbol of the inner light that glows from within that boxy home--
wish we could all do more for you--
Gentilly was my childhood home

By Blogger it's me, at 12/08/2006 2:02 PM  

Tim, Thanks for your wonderful blog. Funny, but of all the things that were destroyed under our 41" of water the Christmas decorations are safe and sound in the upper level of the garage storage area. I have taken a few lights out and am using them at our temporary abode! We would decorate our trailer but no power at present. HAPPY HOLIDAYS To All!
Deb

By Anonymous Debbie, at 12/09/2006 5:31 PM  

dang brah. :)/:(

By Anonymous rickngentilly, at 12/10/2006 1:03 AM  

This is a great little story, as are many of your blogs. I've enjoyed a little piece of home each time I read them.
Not being computer-savvy, I couldn't figure out how to e-mail you, to find out how ISL is doing. We are in Nashville, and I've visited, but would like to know more. Robin

By Anonymous Robin Rafferty, at 1/05/2007 4:19 PM  

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