Next time you are standing outside of your house, stand back and take a good look. Next time you lie in your warm bed at night, close your eyes, and appreciate the lifetime of memories you and your family have made. When Kristen Catalanotto, a senior English and communications major, left her home in New Orleans in August to start her duties as a resident adviser in the Cabrini Apartment Complex, she never thought to look at her house one last time.
Catalanotto said her neighborhood was one of the hardest hit in Katrina’s destructive path. She lives in a small neighborhood eight minutes from New Orleans called Lake View, which is a half mile from the 17th Street Canal and one of the levees that broke. The levee is the same one she played on as a child. “When I was little, we had cardboard boxes and skate boards and we used to slide down the levee on Saturdays and Sundays,” she said.
“I still do! I still have boxes in my garage!” Kelsie LaBauve, a freshman education major from Algiers, La., said. Her neighborhood is a suburb of New Orleans. LaBauve was able to escape the storm because of freshman orientation.
LaBauve lives on the opposite side of the levee than Catalanotto. She said that if the levees hadn’t broke, if need be they would have broken the levee on the other side to prevent the city from flooding. LaBauve said, “The whole time I was thinking they were going to break the levee and I am not going to have a house.” She explained that New Orleans is like a soup bowl because it is below sea level. If ever there was a flood, the water would just keep coming in until it levels. This is why the city must pump the water out, instead of letting it recede.
LaBauve didn’t even know that there was a storm at first. For LaBauve, this was the farthest she had ever been from home. Her high school religion teacher informed her of the storm when she called to tell her teacher about orientation. “She was like, ‘Oh there’s a storm,’ but the way she said it, it didn’t sound like it was that big of a deal. But by the weekend it was a category four and then by Sunday it was a category five, and we were watching the TV all day in Jazzman’s watching the Weather Channel,” she said.
“I cried on Sunday, before the storm hit, and I never really cried after that. I tried to convince myself that I was okay about it. But on the Sept. 11 memorial mass in the chapel, they played ‘City of Ruins’ and I was listening to the words and it all started to hit me, and I started hysterically crying,” LaBauve said.
LaBauve wasn’t able to get in touch with her family. She said none of the phones were working and the only person she could get in touch with was her high school religion teacher. Finally, on the Tuesday after the storm had hit, her sister e-mailed her, saying that she and her fianc