new-orleans-lami1I just returned from a conference in New Orleans.  I wasn’t really excited about visiting this city.  All of the scary stories that I heard on the news after Katrina caused me to be quite leary of exploring the city.

But I was traveling with a colleague who has enough energy for all of us and can’t stand to sit around in a hotel room when there are interesting places to go.  New Orleans has lots of interesting places to go…so we went.

We traveled on a street car away from the French Quarter toward the Garden District.  A place that didn’t flood during Katrina.  The houses were old, southern mansions that have been around since the beginning of the city.  It was a beautiful area, until darkness slowly creeped upon us.  We finally got back to our hotel, but not without witnessing a fight on our street car. Yikes!

A tour on a charter bus was our next attempt to see New Orleans.  The bus took us to the 9th Ward.  The part of the city that was the hardest hit by Katrina.  It’s been 4 years and the evidence of the hurricane were easy to see.

Population before Katrina – 600,000

after Katrina    – 300,000

Many houses were boarded up or just abandoned.  A few houses had been fixed back up.  Brad Pitt is building new houses for the people left homeless.  And during the summer, sunflowers bloom all over the city.  This was unexpected.  The plant flourishes in the murky, sometimes toxic water in the devastated areas.  It may even help to remove the lead that is present in the water.

sunflowers1

What a beautiful symbol of hope for the people of New Orleans.

Are there symbols of hope that you can think of?  The ultimate symbol of hope is the empty tomb, but what about:

  • the cross
  • a baby
  • sunrise
  • graduation

Can you add to the list?