More from the Lower 9th: While attending the “K Plus 5” second line event in the Lower 9th Ward on Sunday, I met a woman named Marcelle Saussy, lifelong New Orleans resident for all of her 71 years. She was wearing a shirt that said “New Orleans: Still Proud To Call It Home” that I asked her about. She told me she’d gotten in right after Katrina off some website, and that she’d been one of the lucky 20% whose homes were not flooded, on the lucky “sliver by the river” (80% of the city was flooded after the levees broke). She talked about coming back soon after evacuating to a home that was still functional (except for the basement, her higher ground wasn’t high enough for that), and how the city was dark and empty, and there were few kids because it was late August and kids had to go to schools and there were none of those, either. She was there with her daughter, also named Marcelle, and her granddaughter Elizabeth, her mouth blue from a Sno-Ball from a nearby truck (run, incidentally, by an awesome woman named Diane who came back after Katrina and decided that rather than restart her business she’d give back to the neighborhood via a Sno-Ball ice truck. It did a booming business on Sunday. The Hurricane flavor is delicious). Marcelle the Younger talked about going to the grocery store after the storm, and how produce was extremely rare. She joked that there was a black market for romaine, but when she said it again I actually wasn’t sure she was joking. Marcelle the Elder said that the CVS was an early-morning destination because that’s where the ice truck would go, which reminded me of a comment Mayor Mitch Landrieu made at the Katrina Commemoration event on Sunday night: that everyone could remember the “stench of a rotten refrigerator.” The crowd responded with a knowing mutter.
Marcelle emailed me later that evening with a few more thoughts:
You asked how I felt about people coming back. Yes, we do have a good return here but I have said goodbye to lots of friends who do not plan to come back… And I did have two friends (older men in poor health) who died during the evacuation. My other daughter and my sister both had major flooding in their homes; two nieces lost everything. So the whole family was not on the sliver. I hope your visit here has been successful, rewarding and included some good meals and good music.
My talk with her and her daughter (and her granddaughter, though she didn’t say anything) is below.
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