Last night, we returned to New Orleans after two weeks on the road...and five years after Hurricane Katrina.
I know the news networks have been covering the anniversary heavily. But as someone who's been on the ground in the city since the summer of 2007, who's called it home for half of the recovery period, I'll reiterate what was already very much apparent when the Saints won the Super Bowl earlier this year: NOLA is back. It's not going to die. It's not in perfect shape (and it never will be by many people's standards), but it's doing well. It really is coming back strong.
The city, in a way, is like one of the bristlecone pines (it's probably heresy to use a non-Louisiana metaphor here, but oh well) that I encountered high in the mountains of Nevada. The ancient trees eke out an existence on the edge of adversity in an inhospitable zone near the treeline. The twisted trunks seem strange and alien compared to average trees. But even when parts of the tree die out, they don't rot, they are simply eroded away like stone, carved even as other parts of the tree continue to live, thrive, and show new greenery. They're rare. And they're beautiful.
That said, there's still a lot of work to do. And I'm looking forward to being part of the overall effort this fall.