It should have been just another average Monday in August. It should have been the beginning of the second week of school for Louisiana State University students. It should have been just another day in history, August 29, 2005.
But it wasn’t. That one day, August 29, 2005, changed the lives of millions. It affected everyone; whether it was through direct experiences or the skyrocketing gas prices.
Now, here we are one year later and I find it increasingly difficult to remember what life was like before Hurricane Katrina devastated communities, created mass confusion and disrupted millions of lives.
On Sunday, August 28, 2005, my roommates and I went to bed in our tiny Baton Rouge, La. apartment crammed with evacuees expecting Hurricane Katrina to be another false alarm.
With Hurricane Katrina’s wrath heading straight for my home state, Louisiana, we all thought it was going to be the usual hurricane scenario: we would have a couple of days off from school, attend a few hurricane parties and experience a mild thunderstorm.
We could not have been more wrong.
Although Baton Rouge did not face any real destruction, the city I called home for 16 years, New Orleans, was destroyed and under water.
As the backside of Hurricane Katrina was hitting Baton Rouge on Monday morning, my friends and I were outside playing soccer and football in the storm. We had no idea that our lives and perception of life as we knew it was going to change.
We were oblivious to the devastation that had occurred only 80 miles away from us in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast.
One of my most vivid memories from that blur of a few days was watching television once our power was restored. I can remember staring at the screen for hours, in utter awe of what had occurred. Seeing my city, my home for 16 years, on national news in a disastrous condition felt like a dream. It felt surreal to see familiar streets and buildings in ruins that I frequently visited.
Growing up in South Louisiana, hurricanes were a constant threat. Evacuations were a seemingly yearly tradition and being naive, I never took them seriously. I looked at them as mini vacations from school and the opportunity to take trips to new places.
After the storm passed, reality of the life changes began to set in. My university, Louisiana State, became a shelter for thousands of evacuees. A temporary hospital and triage center was set up and Bernie Moore Track Stadium became a helicopter landing pad.
Classes were cancelled for over a week, and Baton Rouge became the largest city in Louisiana overnight. Hurricane Katrina seemed to affect every aspect of life. Traffic was unbearable, LSU’s population grew by the thousands, Wal-Mart’s shelves were empty, stores were closing early due to lack of employees and gas was a prized commodity.
Although a year has already flown by, life is still not back to “normal.” I do not think I even know what a “normal” way of life even means anymore. I still find myself forgetting that New Orleans is not the same city it once was. I keep expecting to wake up from this nightmare.