Editor’s note: ‘blackandwhite’ is a photography commentary by Nick Hoover that will run each Thursday.
Watching helicopters rescue stranded victims from their rooftops was the only image I had in my mind as I left for my two-week mission with the Red Cross. When I arrived in New Orleans, the truth was very clear: New Orleans was under water. But what made me stand still was the destruction that 150 mph winds can cause. A fellow volunteer described it “like a car hitting you at twice the speed limit” as we looked at boats lying in trees, homes overturned and rubble that littered the streets.
Here, trees line Interstate 10 on the shore of Lake Pontchatrain, near New Orleans. Just days before, these trees were rich with leaves and life. Now, they’re nothing more than a naked forest. The death of people is a horrific image that I will never overcome, but the destruction of most of the Gulf Coast is one I cannot forget.
As I drove through the streets of New Orleans, seeing the flooding and evacuees first hand, I thought to myself that there had to be an end to this disaster, that there would be a city here again. Mother Nature rebuilds on its own clock, and on its own dime. The beauty of Louisiana was stripped by those 150 mph winds, and vanishing along with it the culture of the Deep South that many may never get to experience.
This is the first of a weekly photo column that I’ll be writing, and it’s titled “blackandwhite” for a reason. I aim to contrast the differences between elements as the eye sees them and how they really are in a different light.
There’s more to Hurricane Katrina than a flooded city. The rest of the Gulf Coast is either permanently under water, or simply eradicated by the hellacious winds the storm carried with it.
While the world mourns the death and destruction in New Orleans, some of us will mourn having the life of the Gulf Coast taken away. As citizens return to the region to check on what’s left of their lives, another storm slowly heads in their direction. Mother Nature can give, and Mother Nature can take – sometimes twice.