Notes by Wilma Subra
September 16, 2005
The smell of death frequently slams into your face in Orleans
Parish. The smell of rotting vegetation is everywhere the land meets
bodies of water in St. Bernard and Plaquemine parishes.
Spray paint markings are on most building and indicate that the
search and rescue teams have been by to check for survivors or dead
bodies. Some of the structures were searched for the first time on
September 14, 2005 - 16 days after Hurricane Katrina changed the waters,
lands and lives of the people of Louisiana forever.
The storm surge transported sediments are prevalent throughout the
area. Sediment layers up to 6 inches thick coat the surfaces of
everything. In some areas the sediment layer has dried and is a powder
blowing in the wind when disturbed by recovery vehicles. In other areas
the sediment is still a wet sediment cake. While in locations where the
flood waters are still inches to feet thick, the sediment is covered with
a water layer coated with an oily rainbow colored sheen.
Personal belongings carried by the storm surge are snared in barbed
wire fences. Houses ripped from their foundations by the force of the
moving water are spread all over the landscape. Other home and business
structures are shredded or completely absent.
Automobiles have come to rest on top of houses,
leaning up against buildings and turned upside down. The marshes and
wetlands have been ripped apart and are littered with boats of all shapes
and sizes including ships and drilling rigs.
Downed trees and power lines have been pushed out of the road ways
in some locations and still block access to most areas.
Storm debris litters roof tops, indicating the flood waters were
higher than the eves of the homes. Newer homes have less roof damage,
fewer shingles missing, but major destruction to external and internal
walls and in most cases the insides have been completely gutted.
Industrial facilities released oily chemicals which spread in the
flood waters and coated homes and property with thick layers of gooey mess.
The damage is severe and wide spread. The silence is deafening.
The National Guard patrols the streets that have been somewhat cleared.
The people are absent. The area has not been opened to allow community
members to return to their homes. When and if the people are allowed to
return they will be met with massive destruction or total absence of
their homes, businesses and places of work.
Hurricane Katrina has changed Louisiana forever.