Cynthia Hogue


Rebecca Ross



Lawanda and Sean Scott (Their Anniversary, Their Story)

(administrative assistant, fire alarm dispatcher)



Our anniversary was Friday.  In August

we celebrate our anniversary.

We drove to Biloxi.  We wasn’t

paying attention to the storm.

We wasn’t paying attention. 

We went to Biloxi. 

We went on with

 our lives.  The casino we were at

set out in the water, and I said to Sean,

“If a storm come through,

it’s going to take all of this down.”

And it sure enough did.

The whole place swept into

         the Gulf.  On our way home 

Sean’s brother called, “What you gonna do?”

“Do for what?” “A storm’s coming.” 

And we were like . . .

But when we got home

 we went walking in the Quarter. 

We did.  With another couple.

We went on with our lives.

Saturday morning about 2 o’clock,

I woke up and saw the storm on CNN—

you know how big it was—and I said,

“Look at that! We got to go.”   Yeah!




In Houston, we saw CNN: “Breaking News. 

Levees breaking in New Orleans.” 

We saw the water pouring in.

 I didn’t feel a thing.  I was numb. 

“What are we going to do?”

“Where are we going to go?”

We lived upstairs, so we were spared

by the water, but we were destroyed

by the looters.  They took everything. 

Everything, everything.  Every last thing

except, by the grace of God,

our wedding DVD. 

That was on the floor. 

That was in the middle of the floor. 

You know, that was our wedding.

They took the television,

the stereo . . . they took

the surround sound 

and the microwave, and my George Foreman grill,

my son’s clothes.  My daughter’s jewelry. 

People was living in our house.  Mmm mm. 

While we were gone.  Mmm mm, mmm mm.

I said, “Let us go then.” 

That’s how we wind up here.





In New Orleans, I was fired for failure

to come back to work in the hurricane. 

I had to go to court to fight it. 

Didn’t have no attorney. 

I went based on the information

my supervisor signed documentation

that I was on vacation on this day,

this day, this day, and this day.   

“You had a duty to act,”

they said.  “You supposed to be

on duty.”  So I lost that case.

When I came back out here,

I was terminated from my new job

for failure to report to work. 

So I went back to New Orleans

and found a job but no housing. 

         Too expensive.  I knew

there was empty trailers,

but FEMA said,  “We need to clean

and inspect them.”  New Orleans is

slow, slow, slow.   From the beginning

my thing was, Don’t go.  Mmm mm. 

Don’t do it.  I knew it wasn’t time. 

But hard head here, he went.   [laughs]   

I knew it wouldn’t work out. 

EMS waited till he drew

on retirement, then

hired him back.  Oh they knew 

what they were doing. 

They said, We’ll hire you

back now, but at a cheaper salary. 

I looked at the big picture. 

I couldn’t get him to see that.

“You’re worth more

than that salary.

You have credentials,

you have  experience. 

Why quit your job here,

to go back there

to make less money?

It don’t add up.”  My thing was,

I wanted to go home. 

I want to go home. 






We went back where the levees broke at. 

Heartbreaking.  Heartbreaking. 

Empty foundations.  No birds, no trees. 

My friend looking for his mother’s house

in the 2200 block of Tennessee 

found it in the 1600 block:  2216

right there in the middle of the road.

Downtown is like Las Vegas,

all bright lights for tourists. 

Elsewhere, it’s slow because of money. 

Political stuff.  After Katrina, the mayor

and the governor feuded because, well . . .

It was personal.  It was personal. 

And they were both mad at Bush. [laughs] 

I think the government didn’t want

to put money into the hands

of politicians.  New Orleans

has a reputation for dirty

politicians.  But people need money

to start their lives over.  FEMA

did nothing for renters. 

We got $2000.  Period. 

We’ve had to borrow.  Now

it’s a struggle.  I don’t know why

but right now home’s

not right.  But I know

to go home is right.


"Lawanda and Sean Scott (Their Anniversary, Their Story)" from When the Water Came: Evacuees of Hurricane Katrina by Cynthia Hogue (interview-poems) and Rebecca Ross (photographs).  Copyright © 2010 by Cynthia Hogue and Rebecca Ross.  Reprinted by permission of University of New Orleans Press and the authors.