New Orleans Residents Use Color to Restore Hope
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
All week on MORNING EDITION we've been marking the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and we've been meeting people who've made a difference. That includes people who bring back color to a troubled city.
Here is NPR's Pam Fessler.
PAM FESSLER: You wouldn't think that paint could be so powerful, but if the wrecked, washed-out homes of Gulf Coast residents are slowly rebuilt, bright, cheerful, colorful paint seems to be the one thing strong enough to wipe away the past.
Ms. DAGMAR BOOTH: When we first came back after the storm, everything looked like a moonscape, everything was gray and was like a grayish-brown mud. So I want color now.
FESSLER: Dagmar Booth stands in the bedroom of her rebuilt home in St. Bernard Parish. The walls are the bright blue of a perfect sky; they almost shimmer.
Did you pick this out?
Ms. BOOTH: Yes, I did. Thank you.
Ms. BOOTH: It's called morning breeze. When you open up your eyes, it's like, ah, good morning.
Mr. ANTOINE DUPLESSIS: Purple. (Unintelligible).
Ms. YOLANDA DUPLESSIS: Oh!
(Soundbite of laughter)
FESSLER: In a nearby house, Yolanda and Antoine Duplessis show visitors their daughter's new room. The walls are a rich purple, the closet a brilliant pink. Even the blades on the ceiling fan are decorated with pink and purple butterflies. But it's the kitchen that Yolanda loves.
Ms. DUPLESSIS: This kitchen make me - think of (unintelligible)...
FESSLER: Yeah. Why?
Ms. DUPLESSIS: Because of the color.
FESSLER: The color of gold and wheat, or maybe a late-day sun. It's hard to say.
Ms. DUPLESSIS: Honey, what's the color this kitchen is?
Mr. DUPLESSIS: I would want to say cinnamon brown.
Ms. DUPLESSIS: No cinnamon brown outside.
Mr. DUPLESSIS: Yeah.
Ms. DUPLESSIS: (Unintelligible)
Mr. DUPLESSIS: (Unintelligible)
Ms. DUPLESSIS: Yeah.
Ms. DUPLESSIS: It's pretty. I love this color.
FESSLER: She also loves coffee, and dreams of sitting here soon drinking a cup in her new smiley-face kitchen.
Not far away, Sidney Rue(ph) also dreams in color, the color of the new modular home she expects to arrive soon.
Ms. SIDNEY RUE (Resident, New Orleans): And I can't wait - can't wait. The outside is blue, and eventually I want my red shutters and my red doors.
FESSLER: She already has the appliances - a new red microwave, a red toaster and others all stacked in her FEMA trailer ready to go.
Ms. RUE: I'm nuts for red. I love red. But I wanted a red refrigerator, red stove and hood, but I didn't have the extra $10,000; that's how much it would have cost. But it looks like the '50s.
FESSLER: What she need now is a red coffee pot. Once she has that and the house, Sidney Rue says she's ready for company.
Ms. RUE: (Unintelligible) just stop. That means I'm home.
FESSLER: Pam Fessler, NPR News.
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