Memories of Mango Sorbet, Jazz Fest and Katrina

Iriel and Antoinette Franklin. i i

Iriel Franklin (left) with her aunt, Antoinette Franklin. StoryCorps hide caption

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Iriel and Antoinette Franklin.

Iriel Franklin (left) with her aunt, Antoinette Franklin.

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More than two years after Katrina, moving past the tragedy is still understandably difficult for some New Orleans residents.

Stafford, Texas, became the new post-Katrina home for 60-year-old Antoinette Franklin and her 23-year-old niece, Iriel Franklin. But memories of their hometown, New Orleans, remains vivid.

Antoinette says the hardest day after the hurricane was when they went to Darrow, La., when her mother and aunt had an emotional breakdown.

"They are the matriarchs, they are the strong women of the family," Antoinette says. "They are the ones that everybody depended on. And when they realized that everything that they had worked for all their [lives ... all] of that was taken away from them and that was very, very painful."

For Iriel, the panic of not being able to locate her family members during the hurricane marks her hardest day.

And as thousands of other New Orleans residents found out, quick decisions were made that would affect their lives in the long term.

"The hardest decision is staying here [in Houston]," Antoinette says. "Because I really miss so much about New Orleans. You know, I miss my daddy's pink and yellow roses, playing tambourine at St. Monica's Holy Hill Gospel Choir, snowball stands, mango sorbet at the jazz fest, the Mardi Gras and the house my daddy built with his heart and hands."

But Antoinette has hopes of returning to Louisiana.

"You know, I'd love to have a nervous breakdown myself, but everyone has taken their turn before me, so I won't be able to for quite a while," she says. "I'm hoping that we'll be able to go home."

Antoinette also has learned a deeper lesson: "I've learned that love and family and faith are more important than anything else in the whole world," she says. "I used to say it, but now I've experienced it."

Iriel says that the tragedy in New Orleans has helped her grow up, whereas before, she was seen as the one to be taken care of.

"You've had to really step up and I'm very, very proud of you," Antoinette tells her niece. "Because this has been trying, but we're up to the test, and I thank you for being on this battlefield with me. I couldn't have asked for a better partner and a better niece. I love you very, very, very much."

Produced for Morning Edition by Michael Garofalo.

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