Photos: Breonne DeDecker

Published  August 2015

“(These images were taken in the fall of 2005) Everything was the color of mud by daylight. A riverine stench hung in the air. Waterlines seemed etched into every house, telephone pole, and car we passed, prompting me to constantly calculate when the water had stood higher than my head. We drove around town in circuitous loops, passing block after block of houses vomiting moldy furniture onto dead lawns and empty streets. The DJ on the radio kept playing the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb,” dedicating it over and over again to Hurricane Katrina. It’s the song that I find myself punching into jukeboxes when I get too drunk and feel the weight of the city pressing down on me. I didn’t take very many pictures on that visit. In the Lower Ninth Ward, I stood in the middle of an overgrown street, taking a photograph of a destroyed house. A Black man came around the corner in a pick-up truck and pulled up next to me. “That’s my house,” he said. He told me that he and his family were lucky to ride out the flood in a boat he had tied up in the backyard. He was so kind to tell me this story, so gracious to not be offended at my presence. But I felt sick to my stomach for being such a vulture, for taking a photograph of a place I could never fully understand, a place that had experienced such pain and was to experience even more during the unequal recovery to come. I still struggle with taking photographs of the city, ten years after the flood.”



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