Reflecting on the Losses from Katrina Host Debbie Elliott mourns all that was lost during Hurricane Katrina: the people, places, and memories.

Reflecting on the Losses from Katrina

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When you live on the Gulf Coast, there's a feeling down deep in your gut when you see a hurricane move into the Gulf of Mexico in late summer. You watch and worry, `Will this be the big one? Is it coming your way?' It gains strength, its path narrows. You struggle with a prayer, knowing full well that asking to be spared means someone else won't be. Now those people are suffering, dying, homeless, hurting. The worst-case scenario has played out, and yet we weren't prepared for it. Are we prepared now for what's to come when people just down the coast in Pensacola, Florida, are still living in travel trailers or under blue tarps for a roof from Hurricane Ivan that struck a year ago? A month or so after a hurricane hits, a well-meaning friend usually checks in asking if things are back to normal. No, nothing is normal. People are gone. Homes are gone. Landmarks are gone. The green is gone.

Katrina has taken much more than countless lives. So much is missing: the shrimp boat fleet in Bayou La Batre, Alabama, where generations of shrimpers decorate their boats each spring for a blessing ceremony before heading out to sea; the majestic ancient oak trees with limbs stretching toward the Mississippi Sound; the roomy old wooden beach houses where cousins pile into the bunks on outdoor sleeping porches to catch a breeze on a steamy summer night; quirky landmarks like the Castle House on Lake Pontchartrain between New Orleans and Slidell. And in New Orleans, the place your children first hear the blues; the hotel courtyards where you fall in love again; the shoeshine man who paints sidewalk tiles; the beads hanging in tree limbs; the kids in tap shoes; the zoo you get to by river boat; the historic restaurants where a waiter has served generations of the same families; po'boys on the levee. We cling to the hope that that spirit will prevail. As my colleague said this week, `Surely, somewhere a second line is forming.'

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ELLIOTT: That's the New Orleans jazz funeral procession that celebrates the life that has just passed.

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ELLIOTT: That's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Debbie Elliott.

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