Everyone has a Katrina story (except me)

March 7th, 2007 by Tim Barkow  

The first chapter of Josh’s gorgeously executed webcomic opens with a close-up view of a flushing toilet that looks like a hurricane eye. The date? August 20, 2005, which just happens to be my birthday. Unlike Leo, I did not spend that night barfing up beer—or at least I’m reasonably sure I did not. Truth told, I don’t remember what the hell I did on my birthday in 2005, because whatever happened on August 20 was completely eclipsed by what happened on August 29.

I may be the only New Orleanian to escape the wrath of Katrina and its horrific aftermath without a good story to tell. Even our evacuation (to beautiful Asheville, North Carolina!) went pretty smoothly. For my husband Donald and I, the decision to split was a no-brainer. By Sunday morning, August 28, Katrina was a Category 5 heading straight for New Orleans and the local news anchors had shifted out of frantic hype mode into stunned shellshock. When we pulled away from our uptown house in a car packed with four howling cats and a few carefully chosen pieces of our own artwork, I broke down in tears. I fully expected never to see our house, or anything in it, ever again.

As it turned out, we were spared, big time. But many, many of our friends were not. And quite a few of those friends stayed during the storm, either by choice or circumstance. Every one of them has a story, and each of those stories is unique. Telling the tales of five storm survivors, as Josh is doing so vividly in A.D. with incredible attention to local detail, personalizes the event in a way that Anderson Cooper could never do. What happens to the A.D. characters–and all of the rest of us in New Orleans—is a still-unfolding story that we’re all helping to write. Who knows how it will end?

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