I’ve been thinking a lot about stuff ever since I heard about the impact of Katrina. I remember when Evan Smith first started coming to my Homelessness in Canadian Society classes at Ryerson university and showed pictures of the curbs in front of houses filled with someone’s entire life. The “garbage years equivalency” right now is about 36…as in, in the 6+ years since the storm New Orleans has generated about 36 years of garbage. When everything in your home right down to the studs needs to be stripped, it’s hard not to create mounds of garbage.
Photo of garbage outside a man's house post-Katrina

Garbage outside home after gutting - Photo by Lia Lehrer

I’m reading a novel about Katrina called City of Refuge by Tom Piazza. While fictional, so far it seems to portray a very honest glimpse into two families evacuation stories. This passage struck me though, in the context of stuff:

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“The hurricane was headed directly for New Orleans, and at the last minute, now, even people who had never before evacuated finally packed bags, threw blankets and bottled water in their car, or their neighbors’ car, or their brother’s, along with one or two toys for the kids, their medicines, their pets, all grabbed in an escalating urgency, along with last-minute things that struck them—either heirlooms (Oh, get the wedding album…take the wedding album…) or odd choices that crossed their field of vision at some final moment and were suddenly irradiated with meaning—that old lamp that had sat for decades on their mother’s nightstand, or a favorite picture from the wall—and started out of town, faintly dazed with a sense that this might in fact represent the end of everything they had ever worked for, or taken for granted, heading toward some undefined future.” (City of Refuge, page 95)

But I suppose what really has me thinking about stuff these days is the fire in the home of some people I know here. Bonnie, her husband George and her sister Connie had a fire on Saturday, January 14th. Much of the kitchen/bathroom on the ground floor and parts of the upstairs were destroyed. If you would like to help there is a paypal address to send donations: firefund@cox.net or you can log into the Facebook Page Bonnie & George New Orleans at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bonnie-George-New-Orleans/358310210862674?ref=ts

Image of burnt kitchen

Kitchen countertop

Hole in roof post fire

Hole in roof that firefighters made to get into second floor

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