Wendee Holtcamp
Photography: New Orleans

The second day I went with another group to Orleans Parish and some of the really bad neighborhoods near where the levee broke. Here are some photos of what I saw just driving around.

When cleaning up the homes, this is what I found amidst the rubble while cleaning people's yards:

A checker
A marble
Two puzzle pieces
A plastic hair curler
Mardi gras beads
Lots and lots of broken glass
Pieces of people's homes -- roofing, siding, tile...

As I reflected on the trip, I thought about how these pieces of people's lives were ripped and torn and literally thrown all over the place. Making the neighborhoods and yards look clean and neat brought hope to people. Many people honked when they drove by and gave the thumbs up, and thanked us for caring about their city and their lives. Tonight as I ran, I realized that why I was so drawn to the broken glass and picking up the broken pieces of people's lives -- the garbage -- was that was what divorce does. It takes a family and it tears it and rips it and throws the pieces all over the place. My life and my family was torn apart, both my own when I was a child and my family now.

It's been four years since my divorce, and I'm still recovering from the pain -- pain I caused myself, pain I caused Matt, and my children, and pain that I myself endured through various events. I went through the most difficult challenge of my adult life during those years at the beginning. It was a tragedy, and I needed someone to just wrap their arms around me, and to reach out to me and let me know I was loved and forgiven. No one did (at the church), except -- of all people -- my ex-husband. Now years later I can honestly say I am happier and more whole than I've ever been in my life, and yet I will always carry a sadness that this happened in my life. I am rebuilding my life, like the people in New Orleans have to rebuild theirs. There is rebirth in tragedy, and the pieces of broken glass and shattered homes can form something beautiful in time and truly give strength to the broken, if you are open to rebuilding and strengthening and taking wisdom from the pain.

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Military vehicles patrol the streets.

One house and its ruined appliances.

One person's body was found in this house. You can tell by the 1 at the bottom of the right side X.

One of the FEMA trailers outside a home.

A plastic God Bless You medallion I found.

Completely gutted and destroyed businesses.

This Taco Bell still has all th chairs and tables and even the soda machine inside...

Disaster Assistance Sign.

This sign cracked me up: "Bush in your face." It's not a political statement, it's a band... but the irony did not escape me.

Copyright (c) 2007 Wendee Holtcamp

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