We are the people of Louisiana, and we have been here before.
We have seen the waters rise and we have watched people run. We have seen children on roofs, pets swimming for safety, houses ruined, and the effects of a lifetime destroyed. We have waited in traffic for hours or days, and we have seen cars submerged in water in their own driveways. We have seen the shadow of years of recovery and felt the sting that comes with wondering how we will afford doing it.
We have also pulled our boats to the edge of the water, together, and set out to help whoever we could. Those of us with no boats have collected food, and clothes, and Lysol, and brought them to where the water meets the land, ready to go in. We have pulled puppies into pirouges, flooded high schools with survivors, and rolled up our sleeves to begin cleaning up.
We are not surprised when the media ignores us, because we do not supply them with an easy narrative or an enticing sound byte. We are not shooting each other, or rioting, or looting. And it’s not just because everything worth looting is underwater, either. It’s because we take care of our own. When a motorboat approaches a stranded family on a rooftop, nobody is looking at race, nobody cares about religion, nobody asks who the other person is voting for in November, and it doesn’t matter if that roof sits atop a mansion or a prefab trailer. We see only a neighbor who needs help. We know these things are not about class until somebody decides to make it that way, and we cannot cooperate with that person again.
We will shake our heads and laugh when, inevitably, someone will write an op-ed piece asking why anyone would live in a place where “such a thing can happen,” then completely miss the irony as they go to sleep in a city that could be broken in half by an earthquake tomorrow.
We live in a place where “such a thing can happen” because it is our home. And it is not our home because we were born here (not all of us who call it home were) or because we have lived here all our lives (not all of us who call it home still do). It is not home because it is where we hunt and fish (but we do). It is not home because it has the best food and the best music in America (although this, too, is true). We call this our home because when the rains fall and the water rise, we don’t wait for the government to decide we’re worthy of aid, and we don’t wait for a candidate to decide to finally tweet about our circumstances.
We are the people of Louisiana, and we take care of our own. And when this happens again, and the waters rise, and if next time it flows into homes that stayed dry the last time, we know our neighbors — our family — will take out their boats and start collecting food and find us shelter and be there for us, just as we were there for them.
Join us in helping our family.