Justin’s Katrina Evacuation Story and Love, Write, Light

evacuspotsNearly 13 years ago I moved to New Orleans. It took me a while but somewhere during my second year, I completely fell in love. I remember the first time I had red beans and rice; The first time I danced all night at Le Bon Temps Roule for Soul Rebels; and the terrible hangovers from drinking 1 dollar drinks at Ms Mae’s.

I also remember evacuating for Hurricane Katrina. I was a junior at Loyola and a member of residential life and our bosses had threatened to fire us if we left before there was an official mandate from Mayor Nagin.

It was three in the morning and my good friend Joy called, saying that she was leaving and that I should come with her. I grabbed a few t-shirts, jeans and my most prized possession at the time, a red eMac.

Our small group of friends piled into her car en route to Baton Rouge. The normal hour and a half trip was stretched to eight hours, sitting in traffic for what felt like an eternity. We were sure the storm would pass and we would back just in time for school to start. Little did we know, we wouldn’t be returning to New Orleans until October.

We were lucky.

More than 1800 were lost in Hurricane Katrina and over 25,000 sought shelter in the Superdome.

In 2009, non-profit, Evacuteer.org was founded to recruit, train, and manage evacuation volunteers. Their flagship project, Evacuspots, in partnership with the Arts Council of New Orleans and NOHSEP, installed 14 foot high stainless steel sculptures at neighborhood evacuation pick up points that ensures every New Orleanian without transportation has a city-assisted evacuation plan.

Their new initiative, Love.Write.Light is a community storytelling platform and fund-raising campaign to help light the 17 evacuspots. The organization has invited the greater community to write their love letter to New Orleans and donate to increase the visibility of the evacuspots to raise awareness of this life-saving plan.

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