As soon as people were allowed back into New Orleans, I drove down to help my parents try to retrieve any items that might have been salvageable. It was extremely creepy driving into our neighborhood as it was a ghost town. There was no law and every time a vehicle came by, we had to be ready. We’ve heard terrible stories of robberies and murders from people offering help.
We looked around the house first, wearing rubber gloves and facemasks. There wasn’t much to save. Everything was lost; pictures, greeting cards, everything made in elementary school by my sister and me. It was all gone. Gutting the house was a gut wrenching experience, but I couldn’t let it show. Eventually, we had dragged everything we could to the curb. This was a requirement of Road Home buying the house.
My parents, grandmother’s, sister, her husband and child had lived in the one bedroom apartment in Baton Rouge for a while. I called constantly, getting updates on how FEMA’s assistance was coming along. A month or two into it, my parents managed to get their own apartment within the same complex and that saved their sanity for the short term.
My sister had the patience of a saint, dealing with the entire situation. She called FEMA everyday, making sure my folks wouldn’t fall through the cracks. One of my grandmothers was able to move into a FEMA trailer on her property in Slidell while my other grandmother continued to stay with my parents.
Eventually, FEMA came through with Road Home money and my parents started a new mortgage on a house in Baton Rouge and my sister also got her first home just a mile away from them. Although they are still adjusting to a new life, their new home is in a better neighborhood than the old one and the house is nicer, but it’s not the same, so they tell me. They miss their old life, as would anyone. The way I see it, Baton Rouge has gained a lot of character.