Translation: My prayers are with you.
I never knew what it was about New Orleans that folks got all excited about. Then I went. Then I met the people. Lee and I were there last March. Every local that we met thanked us for coming to visit. They said tourism enabled them to come home.
Before Hurricane Katrina, I thought everyone there was nuts for living on the coast and below sea level. During Katrina I thought the same thing. When Lee and I went and were able to hear people's stories, I didn't feel that way any more.
The folks we met are there for many reasons. Their culture is there. Their food is there. Their music is there. Their families are there. The city was founded in 1718 by the French. They've been stirring their city's cultural pot for 290 years! Giving up on those things just aren't possible.
I'm crushed that just three years after Katrina it looks like they may get another direct hit. There was so much talk about not rebuilding after Katrina. Hurricanes were bound hit again. I think not rebuilding New Orleans because of "what ifs" would be the same as telling San Francisco they can't rebuild after an earthquake. Goodness knows that there's bound to be another big earthquake.
There is no place else in the world that is New Orleans. It's so much more than buildings and sidewalks and parks. It is a people and a culture that cannot be recreated anywhere, any more than Austin or San Francisco or Seattle or New York City can be recreated.
On the eve of another disaster, I send my prayers of support and safety for everyone that is in the path of Hurricane Gustav.
Update: For the sake of history, in case someone comes across this post a hundred years from now----New Orleans was spared a direct hit and the storm was downgraded from a (possible incoming) category 5 to a category 2 storm. The levees held and the exodus from the city went very well. No one died. Thank the good Lord.