Tag Archives: Hurricane Katrina

Nine Years Ago Today …

Nine years ago today, I took my kids to the Children’s Museum of Houston.

Nine years ago today, I ate (for the first time in my life) Frito Pie, compliments of Residence Inn by Marriott.

Nine years ago today, I learned how to text, very proficiently.

Nine years ago today, I cried in the arms of a stranger named Shannon.

Nine years ago today, my family was the family submitting clothing sizes and the kind of basic wish lists that you usually only see during charity adopt-a-family drives during the holiday season.


What a difference nine years can make. Thanks again, Mound City Elementary.

Past Katrina Posts:

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The Post About PTSD, Russell Crowe AND Winning Free Stuff!

Floods. (shiver) Here in New Orleans, we’re a little shell-shocked about them because we’re located about a dozen feet below sea level. In my lifetime, I’ve seen it happen several times, most famously in 2005 thanks to Hurricane Katrina. My home was among the many casualties, although you’d never know it to look around here now. Seriously, I think someone sneaks useless trash and clutter into my house while we’re asleep.

But let’s get back to floods. I want to talk about the biggest flood of all times. Because its story is being told on the big screen in a movie that opens this Friday, March 28. It’s called simply … Noah. Have you seen the trailer yet?

I’ll be seeing this movie very soon, most likely with my mother. And I’ll be positively hyperventilating during all the destruction scenes. Water-related disasters (Titanic, The Perfect Storm, Jaws) get me in the gut every time. Maybe I need to rethink those cheese sticks and go for something more “stomach-friendly” for this one.

(We all know I’m still getting the cheese sticks, right?)

Oh, and before I forget, my friends at Grace Hill Media asked Mel and me to help promote the movie release with a little giveaway. Actually, we have TWO giveaways because everything related to this movie should be done in PAIRS. (I’ll just assume you get that joke.) Wanna see what you could win? Remember, ODNT has a very limited marketing budget so we can’t afford to hire any fancy models for the photo shoot.


Each prize package contains three items: A hoodie shirt, a raincoat (duh!) and  a baseball cap.

Be flattered. Because I absolutely despise how I look in baseball caps. And I never put them on. For anyone. Here’s why.


Don’t even TRY to tell me you don’t see the resemblance. 

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So, I’ll be keeping the shirt and the raincoat but passing the cap on to my Godchild. Named NOAH, of course. His birthday is this week. (Happy birthday, buddy!!!) Want a set of Noah merchandise of your very own? Mel and I can totally make that happen. Right now.


Remember to fill out the rafflecopter completely. Just clicking the ‘tweet the giveaway’ option can earn you TEN extra entries each day. The promotion ends on Monday, March 31, 2014.

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Good luck!

For more information about the movie, visit noahmovie.com.


Darling Dame

The Post I Couldn’t Bear to Publish Until Today

I made another Brite book. Originally, I created it to observe the 7th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and had planned to post it on Wednesday, August 29. But when Hurricane Isaac started bearing down on us so heavily a few days ago, I decided to sit on it for a while. It just didn’t seem right to put it up where so many people I care about would read it. I could not be responsible for creating any more stress than what was already suffocating the city.

So now, with the recent storm finally behind us, I want to share my latest Brite entitled Katrina – Seven Years Later. I’m so glad things turned out differently for most of us this time. My heart goes out to those of you who weren’t so lucky. I cannot WAIT to have power restored to my home as well as to the many others affected by the storm. Oh, and I want to thank my brother for allowing the kids and I (and soon very likely my parents) to take over his air-conditioned home for who-the-hell-knows-how-long. Thanks, Jeff. I’ll bring the sausage bread, Cheez-Its and Old Rotterdam Aged Gouda. Love you.

(Click the image below to view the Brite book.)


Editor’s Note: The Toilet Story mentioned within this Brite Book is a true tale inspired by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Click here to view it.

Thanks, Britely, for selecting my Back to School ABCs Brite as your winner last week. And thanks to everyone here for visiting and voting. With all the storm anxiety pumping through my veins, this week was a great one for good news.


The Toilet Story (“inspired” by Hurricane Katrina)

I wrote this story for the New Orleans Times Picayune in the spring of 2006. I had intended to share it here, on the 7th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, as a sign of our progress and fortitude. But I fear I may not have electricity tomorrow so I’m posting it now … one day shy of the seven-year mark. I never imagined that I’d be sharing it while hunkering down in the midst of yet another storm. Back the hell off, Isaac.

My family is from New Orleans so we were one of the many, many, many families deeply affected by the storm. Months after the waters receded and the house was fully gutted of our personal belongings as well as ceilings, walls and floors, I visited it (we were staying about 90 miles away at the time) and, taken with the pin drop silence of my neighborhood and mostly just completely lost in the moment, I found myself needing an answer. A ridiculous one, mind you. But, considering the fact that this deadly monster passed through my city yet it was a manmade issue that ultimately destroyed her, isn’t this whole situation still completely absurd?

Flushing Out My Fears (written in February 2006)

I visited my house while in New Orleans over the weekend.  I was by myself … a rarity … and I had to know if the toilet still flushed.  My house is completely empty, except for my grandmother’s rotting piano which will probably have to be removed with an ax.  And I, of course, won’t be anywhere nearby to see or hear it.  The shell of my home has no walls, no floors and no ceilings in most rooms and therefore no fixtures, shelves, cabinets, etc.  But my toilet is still hooked up in the middle of everything.  You could use it and see the earth below you all the while.  So, for the first time, I decided to travel through my gutted house.  I gathered my courage and started on the long adventure from my front door to what was our bathroom to determine the answer to the age-old question of whether a toilet makes a sound if nobody is there to hear it.

I actually have a very good sense of balance.  I’m not all that coordinated and have no real confidence in my athletic abilities, but I can usually balance as well or better than the next guy.  Still, as I worked my way across each floor board, moving sideways like a crab with my feet running parallel over the boards, I couldn’t help wondering why I had to know about my toilet and, for that matter, hear the flush.  I had nothing to hang onto and knew that I could easily fall between the slats of the floor thereby cutting myself on a series of rusty nails on the way down.  And there I would be lodged, bleeding to death, thankful I had at least gotten a tetanus shot, but not heard or found in my ghost town of a neighborhood on a Monday afternoon for God knows how long.

I was thrilled when I made it to the “dining room.”  At least there, I had wall framing to hang onto.  Of course, I didn’t actually want to touch anything, but you make choices.  I carefully navigated that room, passing over the fresh two-by-fours that made up the old doorway that Dave had filled in himself when we moved into the house.  I couldn’t believe how different the wood looked.  I entered my “bedroom” through that same wall and noticed that the ceiling fan pull that my mother had bought for me years ago from some plantation house somewhere was still dangling from the ceiling, and I thought about trying to get it.  I didn’t.  At 5 feet 4 inches tall and with nowhere to put a step stool, I would never reach it.  I said goodbye and moved on to the hallway.

I had to step over a big hole in the floor that used to house a floor furnace.  We’d had it filled in, beautifully I might add, soon after we moved into the house when Dean and Vivien were just tiny little guys.  I still remember the former owner of the house (a floor guy) telling me it couldn’t be done.  But I remember that day, as I looked at the enormous grasshopper that had gotten through the hole and was in the house with us, that I knew I would be filling it in.

Finally, I entered my “bathroom.”  And I realized that as I had traveled from room to room in my house, I was back to my split screen reality again.  Damn.  I thought I had gotten past that.  Everywhere I looked in the house, I simultaneously saw things I remembered and what was really there now.  And as I was taking one of my saddest strolls down memory lane, I made it to the toilet.  Eureka!  I felt like I had reached the top of Everest.  And reaching down to flush the commode, I noticed all of the toilet paper brought by the workmen who gutted my house could be seen sitting on the ground … I mean, the earth … through the boards of my floor.  Had they actually used the toilet and reached down five feet through the hole for the paper?  Well, at least now I knew why the toilet remained the only thing installed in the house.

As I pushed the lever and began to see the water swirling around in the bowl (filthy above the water line, but seemingly clean as a whistle below), I panicked and thought, “Wait, is this thing still fully connected?”  I wondered if water was going to start shooting out at me and I wouldn’t be able to get away because you can’t run across rotten, old floor boards.  Suddenly the lodged-on-a-rusty-nail-through-the-floor scenario didn’t look so bad.  But I lucked out.  The toilet flushed … normally … just like yours and mine (well, just like the one at my mother-in-law’s house where we’re now living).

And of course, I got back out of the house pretty quickly and easily.  The trip back never seems as long or as arduous as the one there.  I really hope that proves true of this whole, heart-wrenching journey.

Everyone stay safe as we ride out Hurricane Isaac. I don’t expect to have power much longer but plan to continue sending updates and messages via Twitter throughout the storm. Please look for me at @OldDogNewTits. I could use the company.


A Letter from Katrina to Isaac (Yes, I mean the Hurricanes)

August 27, 2012, 12:09pm

Dear Isaac,

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Katrina and there is not one human being in New Orleans, along the entirety of the Gulf Coast of the United States or around the globe, for that matter, who is not well acquainted with me and my work. However, I will accept that, because you are less than seven years of age and have just formed and organized yourself, you are unfamiliar with my celebrity. A quick Google search should get you up to speed with my resume. Or you may simply click here.

With all due respect, I am writing to request that you back off from your area of target immediately and completely. Not only am I recognized as the sixth strongest hurricane in all of recorded history, I have also been deemed the costliest natural disaster and one of the five deadliest storms in the history of the United States. And I have no intention of retiring any of my titles at this time.

That you have chosen to rear your ugly, inexperienced head exactly one day before the seventh anniversary of my devastation is in severely bad form, my young friend. But then what would you know about these things? You were upgraded to a tropical storm only one week ago. You DO realize that the only reason that people are worried about you, even watching you, is because of me, right? It was I who left that post-traumatic feeling in the city that has exalted all hurricanes since. I am the bar against which all before and after me have been and will be measured.

Move on, little green neophyte. These people have endured enough. They do not need some snot-nosed punk hanging around and distracting them from the seven year reminder of my abominable efforts on August 29, 2005. I will expect to see you and your belongings on the curb waiting for a cab within 24 hours. This point is not negotiable.



 I have been asked no less than twenty times what my family is doing for the storm. As always, we are hoping to stay put. We will make the decision as the storm progresses and its nasty details unfold. Having been through these hurricanes my entire life, my stress levels are high at the moment. And I felt the need to purge a little of my internal anger and fear over the entire situation this morning. Everyone stay safe. I’ll be in touch.


YeahWrite.Me – The Speakeasy 

My Fond Farewell to the Desperate Housewives

Dear ABC, Marc Cherry and the Entire Cast & Crew of Desperate Housewives,

Today, on the eve of your series finale, I wanted to take a minute to send you a little love and appreciation for eight years of great entertainment. I seldom take the time to write letters of this sort. As a matter of fact, I’m fairly certain that the last piece of fan mail I put out there involved ordering something called a Shaun Cassidy Everything Kit. (It never came by the way … and I’m still waiting.)

When Desperate Housewives debuted in October 2004, I had two very young children. My son was four and my daughter was two and, like any mother with kids that age, I was a frazzled, sleepless woman with little time for herself. Actually, the only real me time I remember getting back then was from 8-9pm on Sunday nights when my husband took the kids off my hands completely enabling me, literally, to hole up in my bedroom and take in my weekly hour of what I always called my calorie-free chocolate. (It had all the guilty pleasure and indulgence of a nice Godiva bar but none of the dietary sabotage.)

My biggest mistake was encouraging my husband to watch the show with me at some point and letting him get sucked in as much as I was. Yes, that’s right. I just outed my husband as a big male Desperate Housewives fan, whether he likes it or not. So, from that point on, we taped the show and watched it after the kids went to bed. And it was a fun hour that we spent together each week keeping up with your motley crew of housewives, temptresses, murderesses and more.

Until August 2005.

We’re from New Orleans, Louisiana. And, like so many others all around us, we lost our home to Hurricane Katrina and wound up fleeing to my husband’s mother’s home about 80 miles away where our family of four lived for the next nine months with her as well as with my parents and my brother. (Talk about the Clampett family.)

It was at this point that I sucked my mother into the show. I can remember putting my kids to bed on Sunday nights in our temporary house and settling in with my mom on the sofa with a few glasses of wine to take in the new episode each week. In truth, it was one of the things I most looked forward to back in those dark days of not knowing what would happen next. Your storyline allowed me to escape my (fairly substantial at the time) worries and just get caught up in the characters every Sunday.

It became such a ‘my thing’ back then that it was the theme of my next birthday party. My kids were in charge and, since their parties always had themes (a la Dora the Explorer, Disney Princesses, etc.), they thought mine should reflect my favorite things. So, with the help of my mother, they wrote ABC on my behalf and received an autographed picture as well as some small pictures that they used to decorate my cake. We played ‘Pin the Ponytail on the Desperate Housewife’ and they even ordered me this shirt.


Yes, I still have it. But it says ‘I’m Desperate’ and it’s very tight so it’s been demoted to a night shirt.


Any chance of having the world know the real benign meaning of my shirt was lost in this tiny logo completely covered by my hair on the back.

Now nearly seven years after Katrina, my family is settled back in New Orleans in a new home that we’ve owned since 2007. My kids, who were potty training pre-schoolers when the show started, are now 9 and 12. We’re starting to look at high schools for my son. It’s amazing the time span that your show covered in the life of my family.

And I never missed an episode. I’ll be sorry to see you go. I don’t know what I’m going to do on Sunday nights. If I bring the wine and cheese, can I come over to your house?

Yours in eight years of appreciation,


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Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!

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And another (more grievous) entry for the weekend challenge

Like last weekend, I had to write just one more, diametrically opposed entry for Trifextra’s Weekend Challenge. The only rules here are that the submission needs to be 33 words exactly and it should best demonstrate (of all entries) the proper use for an exclamation point. So, without further ado, I give you entry two for the weekend … entitled A Bullet Not Dodged.

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It was the morning after the storm.  The hotel had already started handing out champagne when he entered and tried to speak over the revelry. Fighting inevitable tears, he bellowed, “The levees broke!”

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A special NOTE from ODNT … I think I might have bent the rules a little with this submission.  I’m new to the challenge but I believe all of the writers are submitting works of fiction, which this one is not. My family of four (along with my extended family and all of our friends) were pushed out of New Orleans almost seven years ago by Hurricane Katrina.  Our home was located in one of the many neighborhoods completely destroyed by the storm.  I am lucky that my kids were babies at the time, 5 and 3, and thus have little memory of everything.  I wish I could say the same, though I usually remember everything as though it was someone else’s story.  My family is just fine now, living in a new home (never before flooded) only 2.96 miles from my old front door. I have written about the experience a bit over the years (even had some of it published) but have never mentioned much here on the blog.  One day, I’m sure I will.


At least it won’t be MY house that has turkey bits falling between the counter and the stove this year

In seventeen years, I have only missed hosting Thanksgiving three times:

(1) 1999 – My son was born just a few weeks earlier and no one in my sleepless household was up to the task.

(2) 2005 – Two words. Hurricane Katrina. No home = no hosting space.

(3) 2006 – Still Katrina. That bitch meant business and kept us down for a while.

I love hosting Thanksgiving. It actually might be my favorite holiday … for the same reason that the rehearsal dinner is my favorite part of a wedding and Thursday was my favorite day of the week when I worked in a traditional office setting. These things all serve as the gateway to the main event. They are the proverbial firing of the starter’s pistol at the beginning of the race. That exciting overture is always my favorite point in time for most anything.

So, it was with heavy (well, let’s be honest … heavy-ish) heart that I relinquished the reins of a fourth Thanksgiving. To my wonderful parents, of course. Who were more than happy to help me and take hold of the hosting duties, which they don’t have as often as they’d like. (That last part really probably only pertains to my mom.)

I know my husband also really likes hosting for the holidays … so we’re at our own home. (Sorry, D.) And we like watching … or at least peripherally experiencing in the background … the whole Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s a tradition I’ve observed since I was very young. I love watching the Broadway performances, seeing the gargantuan character balloons (especially the vintage ones) and even listening to the cheesy banter between the hosts. And tomorrow is no exception. I don’t want to miss New Orleans’ own 610 Stompers. I’m proud to call several of these goofy male dance teamers my friends and can’t wait to see the show. I better not miss it since I’m changing locations this year.

Stupid lung mass. (cough, sputter) I mean … Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!