Katrina X

August 23, 2015

FEMA Code Lower 9th Ward

(C) Copyright 2008 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

I have been working my way through Gary Rivlin’s Katrina: After the Flood, and on page 127 he refers to the markings left on houses after they were searched for damage and/or bodies as the “Katrina X”.  The photograph above was taken in the Lower 9th Ward.

The number in the 12 o’clock position is the date the house was searched.  The letters in the 3 o’clock position reference any hazards within the structure-my understanding is that “NE” stands for “none evident”.  The space in the 6 o’clock position identifies the number of bodies found-in this case, the space is empty so one could presume that there were no bodies found in this home.  Finally, the letters/numbers in the 9 o’clock position reflect the team completing the search.

The date the house was searched is important:  9/16.  Hurricane Katrina hit on 8/29, so it was over two weeks before this particular house was searched.  Given that it took weeks for the flood waters to be pumped out to allow the searches and that, according to Rivlin, “More than 100,000 homes in the city had been damaged, and most every business had been shuttered” (pg. 158), that date takes on added significance.

What I often forget, and really should not forget, is that Hurricane Rita followed Hurricane Katrina. Rivlin reports that the flooding in the Lower 9th was “as bad on September 24, the day after Rita, as it was on August 30, the day after Katrina” (pg. 127).

A few weeks ago, NPR had this report describing the current status of the Lower 9th Ward.  Please do give it a read and/or listen.

Take care.

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