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
MOLINE BAZZLE (MMB)
Where did you live when Hurricane Katrina hit?
lived in New Orleans East.
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.
When did it flood?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
had] a wholesome upbringing. My favorite time, we played, we traveled…
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
tempo of the city I miss most. I brought the cook and I am the music…