Thursday, October 06, 2005

CLAYTON CUBITT’S EDEN

Little by little life is getting back to normal where I live in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana. We no longer hear the constant sound of helicopters overhead. Slowly, the debris crews are getting to various neighborhoods to pick up the remains of trees. The make-shift radio network that sprung up in New Orleans, with on-air talent from most of the stations in town sharing the mike is starting to break up, with some of the stations returning to their normal broadcasting.

My brother, John, came in from his temporary home in Nashville to check out his home in the Mid-City section of New Orleans for the first time since Katrina. He was unbelievably lucky. The flood waters stopped rising a mere inch from the floor boards of his raised house, thus saving the musical instruments by which he earns his living.

With the passage of time, the scale of the destruction of lives and property that Katrina caused seems to diminish. But whenever I start to forget that people are still suffering, I’ll see something that jolts me back into the reality of the hurricane’s aftermath. Yesterday I got that jolt from Operation Eden.

Clayton Cubitt is a frighteningly talented photographer who lives and works in New York. For the last week or so, though, he has been posting to a blog called Operation Eden, in which he chronicles his journey to Pearlington, Mississippi to help his mother and brother. There are pictures of gut-wrenching devastation, but what really got to me were the portraits -- in both pictures and words -- of the people of Pearlington and New Orleans.

Pearlington was a quiet little town that hardly exists anymore. After the storm, it was forgotten by FEMA, by the media, and by people like me who were too focused on the petty inconveniences Katrina caused. Clayton Cubiit made sure I will never again forget Pearlington.

2 Comments:

Blogger Kev said...

I'm glad to hear things are settling down.

I've never been to New Orleans but I've felt like it has a special meaning to me through the novels of Faulkner and Tennesse Williams as well as Anne Rice. Its always felt to me like it was a magical place full of mystery, it was horrible to see pictures of the French Quarter in ruins where the Vampire Lestat once held sway.

I really hope that all of that charm and passion make it back as well as the people. I want it to be just like I imagine it when the day comes that I can finally get around to paying a visit.

10/7/05, 8:04 AM  
Blogger Wade Rankin said...

Yes, things are settling down, but life has taken on an aura of abnormal normality (or is it a normal abnormality). Seeing trees down or other signs of damage has just become part of our routine.

The Quarter is in pretty good shape, as is much of the Warehouse District and some of the Garden District. The hardest hit areas are Lakeview, some of Mid-City, the Ninth Ward (or "da nint wawd" as we say down here), and some of the areas outside of the City limits like St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes. Ironically, the worst damage is to the very poor parts of town and the very rich parts of town.

10/7/05, 5:22 PM  

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