To travel along roads mile after mile and witness all the houses and buildings that are either deserted or destroyed renders perspective on just how lucky we Swedes are to live in a natural safe-haven like Sweden. In spite of our experiences with the devastating storm of 2005, hurricane Gudrun, events like that rarely occur in our parts.
I can´t help to reflect on just how everyday life works when elementrary things like one´s house or the school is gone. Most people move to another area where there is a school as well as residential buildings, others stay with friends and family and await the rebuilding of the destruction. At the same time, a lot of people struggle with their insurance, as the insurance companies questions people´s reason for insurance claims and are often unwilling to reimburse people for their loss. Most people who have started the reconstruction of their homes are those who have money of their own. In Mississippi, one of the areas that were struck the hardest by Katrina, there are however certain funds meant to aid the reconstruction (if I have understood this right), and these people have expressed their wish for some of these houses to be designed according to a Swedish model.
I met a lot of interesting people during my visit in New Orleans and the south, amongst them a few volountaries and school kids who, together with an adult, helped empty buildings of building m,aterials and interior. We also stopped by a few places where the church were handing out canned food and toilet paper to those in need. Those lines were always filled.
Stores and shops have slowly started to re-open in the area. That is good, and a sign of things slowly starting to return to normal. However, there is still a long road with hard work ahead before everything is restored. To see all the junk and garbage – an empty coffee cup, a lost teddy bear - on the edges of people´s property is another stark evidence of the loss of people´s everyday lives.
Apart from the general purpose of my visit, to share impressions of the experience of natural disasters and subsequent aid, I also had a chance to visit the famous Bourbon Street and feel the pulse of what must be considered the cradle of jazz and blues. To walk along this classic street and hear live music streaming out of the many clubs created an extraordinary atmosphere. Sadly, the impression was somewhat tainted by the young, beautiful girls standing in a few entrances alluring visitors to come into the striptease bars.
Finally, I hope that our local house manufacturers here in Sweden, especially those who make small summer condo´s and easily assembled leisure cottages, are interested in export to New Orleans and Mississippi.