Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Linda Novak, Katrina Survivor
Linda Novak, Ninth Ward of New Orleans, 2005
This is Linda, she's my friend. I made this photograph of her standing in the doorway of her flooded Ninth Ward home, on the first day we met, about a month after the levees broke. It was also the first day she had been able to get into her neighborhood to see what had happened to her life. I had been introduced to her by a mutual friend who was forced into exile by Katrina. I was stranded in the French Quarter, and Linda was staying a few blocks away, her only surviving belonging an old blue junker Ford that died at every stop sign, and the clothes on her back.
She, my girl and I snuck past the checkpoints in Linda's rumbling old car, and cruised through the dusty war zone streets of the Ninth Ward, to her house. You can see the water line on the curtains in the front door next to where she's standing. Her neighbor's car had floated to rest against her front security gate, and we had to break the transmission to push it out of the way for entrance. I helped her kick her door in, as much of her living room had floated up against it on the inside. She was shocked and elated to find out that her goldfish had survived the whole ordeal in his bowl in the corner, and was there to greet her when she came in.
I call her friend now because we bonded in the destruction. She let me in to her turmoil, her loss, her quiet dignity and strength. I saw her face what was left of her life with calm and determination, and we helped her move out what little she could salvage. And after a few hours we loaded up her junker, and I sat in the front seat cradling my camera, my girl in the backseat cradling the tough little goldfish, and we slowly rattled through the Ninth Ward, silent in the face of all the destruction, stopping when her car died, making photographs of the lonely landscape. We found our way to McKain Street that day, and it seemed so appropriate, that junker, a shiny rental car would have been from a different world. And Linda was there when I broke down, making this photograph of my grandma's shack, while my girl wrapped her arm around me and the whole world was silent.
And Linda was silent, too. She understood. Words were useless.
Posted by clayton cubitt at 5:18 PM