Fading scars

Ninth Ward, NOLA 2010

First responders splinter locked front doors with sledge hammers while searching for survivors, but find more victims instead. Wooden jambs swollen from filthy flood waters keep out rescuers more efficiently than steel bolts dissuade looters.

Going house to house, the quiet is ominous. Where sounds of laughing children and barking dogs were once block music, silence now a stark reminder of the loss of life.

Vandals band into packs, defiling already ruined memories, leaving messages of contempt where comfort is needed, necessary.

Devastation, caused by demon storms bearing names as easily given to nurturing mothers and fathers, lingers even after the debris is removed from sight. Fading to shiny silver traces, scars never completely heal.

Three months remain in the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

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  • Hurricane Andrew (1992) Homestead FL: 26 deaths; $26.5 billion damages
  • Hurricane Opal (1995) Destin FL: 59 deaths; $3 billion damages
  • Hurricane Ivan (2004) Gulf Shores, AL: 92 deaths; $14.2 billion damages
  • Hurricane Katrina (2005) New Orleans, LA: 1,200 deaths; $75 billion damages
  • Hurricane Irene (2011) New York City, NY: 56 deaths;  $15.6 billion damages
  • Hurricane Sandy (2012) Mantoloking, NJ: 191 deaths; $50 billion damages

*National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The Trifecta challenge this week is: Band [ verb \ˈband\] 3: to gather together : unite
This week’s Studio30 Plus prompt is “Splinter,” and/or “Ominous.”

*Photo venue: New Orleans, Ninth Ward; 2010, five years after Hurricane Katrina. The graffiti on this house is not vandalism. It is X-code messages used by search-and-rescue teams.


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I believe all good fiction includes an element of truth, and all good photography includes an element of fantasy. In this journal I hope to give voice to the stories swirling around in my head, and to capture the images I see through my camera’s lens.

36 thoughts on “Fading scars

  1. oh, Tara! I do not miss the tornadoes of Ohio . . . will take a lil temblor any day. My heart just goes out to folks who live through this season after season. Well done!


    1. The only good thing about hurricanes, is that you really have a lot of time to prepare. It’s not sudden like a tornado or earthquake, you have many days warning. The problem is when people don’t heed those warnings.


  2. You did a great job capturing the devastation of a storm. I love the line “…bearing names of nurturing mothers and fathers.” Mother Nature is supposed to keep us safe and protected or so we think. Great story.


  3. Fading to shiny silver traces – scars of all kinds. I’m more accustomed to nor’easters, and the last hurricane I “survived” was Bob in ’91, but it all stays with me.
    I followed Sandy online here in mild Barcelona to the point where my heart was racing and I was telling myself that No, I did not need to stop on my way home from work to get candles and water. lol
    That last line was killer, Tara.


    1. Thank you so much. I’ve heard that those nor’easters can be as destructive as any hurricane. At least with hurricanes, we know when and, to some degree of accuracy, where they are going to hit.


  4. You’ve captured the human impact of the devastation. Here in the northeast we are spared, often. But Irene and Sandy reminded us how vulnerable we all can be. Well done.


    1. Irene and Sandy were such freak storms. Here in the south we expect them, prepare for them every season. I can’t imagine what residents in northern states thought when those hurricanes made landfall. It had to feel like the end of the world.


  5. Thanks for the reminder of what these storms can do. I’ve been through a few hurricanes but never experienced any serious damage or harm. You’ve written a piece that launches a swift punch to the gut. Well done.


    1. Every season I bookmark the NOAA hurricane center website just so I can keep track of storms as they form. It’s an odd experience to ride out a big storm.


    1. It’s difficult to realistically portray what it’s like during and after a major hurricane. The stories that you hear on the news are not nearly graphic enough. Thank you for your kind comment.


  6. I was in New Orleans a few months ago and was surprised how many houses still had the X code on them. Each new storm forming out in the ocean could be another devastating hurricane, I can’t imagine have months of that fear looming all the time. My best friend is from New Orleans and just moved back there.


    1. The storm season is six months long, and not gonna lie, come June 1 I get a little stressed about it. Fortunately, the area where I live has been spared a direct hit for several years.


  7. It is amazing how storms can reshape the world and totally change the social dynamics of a locale. I watched in horror as katrina forever change the gulf coast region. The images were disturbing in that we could not deal effectively with the effects in a timely manner.


    1. Having lived through several storms, with Katrina I believe most of the devastation was post-storm, from the inadequacy of the levees. Still, the city and country was not prepared for what happened regardless of the ultimate cause.


  8. It’s surprising how long signs of the devastation are visible. I’ve never been through a hurricane (thanks to living in Arizona most of my life) but I imagine that it gets tense during the hurricane season.


    1. June 1 is always stressful for me, just because it’s the official start of the storm season. After all these years, we have our evacuation plans pretty much set, and our floor insurance current.


  9. Don’t remind me…

    Yesterday we had a sudden freak storm hit us. The skies were dark grey and covered, we could see the lightning coming from miles away. I knew something was coming, knew we we’re going to get hit, just didn’t know exactly when it would happen. I left the AC lounge where I was huddled to write without fighting the heat. I wanted to be back on my boat before the storm hit so I could close all the windows, and batten the hatches (ha!)

    And then it came. Whistling winds, halyards banging on masts, and the boat banging on the dock. I was really glad to be tied down to a solid dock, and not simply anchored. Not enjoying being alone here in the middle of hurricane season.

    My heart goes to those who really do lose everything.


    1. So glad you weathered the storm without injury or damage. We’ve been incredibly lucky here. Living in hurricane alley is an adventure that’s for sure.


  10. *wiping my eyes*, esp as I have spent a good deal of time near the Jersey Shore (and my mom and step dad had damage (MINIMAL) to their marina home) seeing the devastation the last few months.

    The words you used to paint this picture were like small shocks to my system, the vandals forming “packs”, one of my favorites (although so sad) is that the “Block music” is now different and sad, it was well written and hit me in the chest.

    as Tom said, saying thank you for linking up seems like hardly enough, but thank you anyway for always giving my heart something to think on.


  11. Oh those stats are horrendous. Summer/early fall has a whole different meaning to those living in florida. The picture haunted me as I read your words!


    1. I can tell you the day and time my family left our home when escaping Hurricane Opal. My children and I didn’t come back for two weeks, until electricity had been restored. My husband came back after only a few days to help neighbors and clear our yard of debris and fallen trees.


  12. What a brilliant, touching tribute to those who have suffered at the hands of storms. You have offered such respect to the victims. There are so many examples of excellence in this story that I don’t even know where to begin my praise. Your decision to simply list the storms, casulties and costs involved really hammers home the points you have made and acts as a counter-balance to the wonderful writing that precedes it. Thanking you for linking up hardly seems enough. 🙂


    1. I’ve been fortunate. Though my family has evacuated for four storms, we have miraculously sustained no serious property damage or injuries. I am immensely grateful.


    1. We moved into our house in Sept. 1995, three weeks later we were evacuating ahead of Hurricane Opal. There are still signs, almost 20 years later, of that storm. New Orleans continues to feel the effects of Katrina nearly 10 years out. Damages from Sandy will linger just as long.


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