26. August 2015 10:48
by Administrator

BCRI Interview with Hurricane Katrina Survivors Myrna and Glennon Bazzle

26. August 2015 10:48 by Administrator | 0 Comments

Today marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation she left in her wake. Many cities have recovered and many have not. Many of her victims became permanently displaced, finding new homes far away from their actual homes.

One city that physically lost residence, but not emotionally, was New Orleans. Many of its residents moved to Birmingham, Alabama after the storm and many of them made homes here, only going back to New Orleans to visit. But if you ask one of them “where is home,” they will most likely say, ‘New Orleans.”  That never changed after the storm because for people from New Orleans…New Orleans, home is where the heart is.

I had the privilege to speak with the Bazzle family, Glennon and Myrna, who grew up in New Orleans and only moved to Birmingham due to Hurricane Katrina. This is their story. Birmingham is their new home…but New Orleans is always home.

-Kendall Chew (KC)

BCRI Education and Exhibitions Assistant


KC: Where did you live when Hurricane Katrina hit?

MMB: We lived in New Orleans East.

We were located less than a mile from Lake Pontchartrain between 1-2 miles from the Industrial Canal. Being in New Orleans East we weren’t far from the outlet of the Mississippi to our South) and to the East of us was the Bayou Sauvage Natural Wildlife Refuge… so we are essentially surrounded by water. We were in a bowl. The house was four feet below sea level. There was seven feet of water inside the house.

KC: When did it flood?

MMB: We weren’t at home. Glennon was in Atlanta and I worked from the Friday before the storm. Then storm evacuations became mandatory for surrounding parishes of New Orleans, so that Saturday I left.

I went to my brother’s home in Baton Rouge, which became the family staging area. My sister and her family road the storm out there as well. But then we stayed. We were not used to staying. We weren’t allowed back into New Orleans until October. There was no going back.

[Glennon and I] were separated until mid-September. Glennon had friends in Birmingham and got temporary housing in the hotels there. Friends encouraged us to relocate to Birmingham. I was still in Baton Rouge. But we couldn’t stay there because of the chaos of all the people there. I drove to Birmingham.

After they allowed us to go back in October, we did go back. It was shocking, very emotional and I couldn’t go inside. My husband did. It was all a loss. I didn’t want anything from inside. My mother’s dishes were all I hoped for because they were passed on to me. The dishes were [found] totally intact.

We go back frequently and we were able to sell the house. The person who bought it did a great job restoring it to the point I wanted it!  New Orleans East homes and businesses are coming back, but regrettably portions of New Orleans East and the lower Ninth Ward, where the levees were breached look untouched since Katrina.

KC: What do you miss the most?

MMB: I have to say it’s everything you know the city for: the people, the music, the arts, the joie de vivre…everything that makes New Orleans, a unique, cosmopolitan gumbo mix of a place. It’s part of your life blood. It will always be home.


KC: What are some of your first memories of New Orleans?

GB: Sixth Ward, Lafitte Projects or what 2015 would call Treme, but don’t let them fool you.

The music was my first memory:  the second line, dancing in the street, playing with my friends and never having to worry about being intimidated and messed with.

And we had a great time. We did everything and supported each other. The schools, the teachers were family members and lived in the neighborhood. There was somebody always “observing” you.

[I had] a wholesome upbringing. My favorite time, we played, we traveled…

The music…there is a lot of stuff that has to be contributed to NOLA music. There is still today, this very moment people going to NOLA from around the world listening to music and writing the music and they try to play the music. They can play it correct, but they can’t play it right. Because the right stuff comes out the ground. You can tell when a two year old starts dancing, you can’t buy it.

The desegregation part of stuff messed everything up. I don’t go where I’m not wanted…in any city. That hasn’t changed. It’s a new generation, but the DNA comes out the ground. I just don’t put myself in that situation. It is still the same.

On Birmingham

Birmingham wasn’t even a thought. My friends would say, “Not you in Birmingham. How’d you end up there?” In my travels I’ve lived in big cities. To wind up in Birmingham was laughable. It wasn’t my choice. When Katrina hit, I was in Atlanta helping my son move.

I had a high school buddy that relocated here and called: “Glennon. You gotta move to Birmingham. They got plenty golf courses here. It’d be a good opportunity for you.”

KC: What do you miss most about New Orleans?

GB: I miss “the openness and the tempo of the city (snaps fingers quickly). Birmingham is more (snaps finger slowly) It’s slow boo.”

People in Birmingham ask, “Which church do you belong to?” In New Orleans, they don’t ask, they just say, “Let’s go get a drink.”

The tempo of the city I miss most. I brought the cook and I am the music…