A Personal Tale: Returning to the Big Easy

As told by Justin LagrandeGramblinite staffWhen a bird leaves the nest, it usually has no intentions of returning home. That is usually not the case with humans, and it definitely hasn’t been the case for many individuals who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The return of the Bayou Classic to New Orleans served as the perfect opportunity for large numbers of former citizens to come home. Along with citizens returning, there were also friends and family members reuniting and reminiscing. For many it was the first time they saw each other since before the storm, and the reunions were in many cases bittersweet, as many people suffered losses. This trip to New Orleans took on a deep personal tone for me, as I reunited with a group of friends that I hadn’t seen since August 2005.Two of the people I sat down with, Floyd Reneau Jr. and Clayton Pinkins, III, were long time residents of the “Lower Ninth Ward.” They both lost their homes, and while Reneau relocated to Houston, Pinkins has decided to stay and rebuild. His reason for staying is simple, if everyone sells his or her home and leaves, then who will remain in the city to carry on the traditions and culture that give the city its heart.With Pinkins having every intention of helping New Orleans rebuild, Reneau has decided to plant roots in Houston for the near future. ” I can’t go back to New Orleans and sleep on my dad’s floor,” he said. “I’m a man and I need to act like one.” Neither has had as hard a time adjusting to their post Katrina life as some media outlets would have you believe. In fact, according to Reneau, the storm just helped motivate him to move out on his own.Another gentleman I sat down with, Jason Washington, is not only a resident of New Orleans; he is also a New Orleans firefighter. He wouldn’t go into details about what he saw during the storm, but he did say that it was something that he wouldn’t want anyone else to endure.A part of his plan to help rebuild is his music. He and Pinkins formed a rap group called “N.O. WordSmyths” and are currently working on a project containing material that touches on a broad range of topics. Pinkins described their group as “a link to the past and the face of the future.”As much as we all feel a combination of sorrow and anger even now, we felt that the storm may have been God’s way of placing people where they needed to be. Many of us, myself included, would have been in a stagnant situation if not for the need to evacuate. While the storm left many without anything, for this group of men, the path of their future was reopened thanks in part to the clean slate left in Katrina’s wake.Justin Lagrande is a junior mass comm. major from Reserve.