Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Day Before Katrina

We had gotten to Seaside Heights the night before, to chill out and fuck off. My mom called me that morning, at dawn, to tell me she was evacuating. When her voice broke I knew it was bad. But what could we do that day? I took pictures of my friends relaxing, having fun, but my mind was already in the Gulf. These pictures are strange to me. Like somebody else took them. Sleepwalking. Like the memory of the fun didn't have enough time to set before Katrina blew it away.

Or maybe it's the guilt? That I was lounging at the beach, a million miles away, while my family and past was being decimated. I played while my roots were torn up. But, what could I have done? We were lucky that I had moved away. I was the remote backup for my family. I only hope I'm strong enough to help them restore.


Steve said...

There is nothing you could have done, nothing at all. You've actually done more than a lot of us have, and you should rest easy knowing that what you have done made a difference not only to your family but to alot of other people not only in Pearlington,but in Bogalusa, Slidell, everywhere that NBC, CBS,ABC,CNN and Fox news didnt go. You helped bring the plight of the small gulf towns to our attention Clayton, so stop beating yourself up.

Anonymous said...

I have no doubt you are strong enough, Clayton. You're amazing.

Take care --

Anonymous said...

You've already shown by your words and your actions that you are strong enough to help your family restore.

I empathize with your feelings. I have a slightly similar situation in that I live in another city from the rest of my family and we're struggling with a difficult situation (cancer in 3 family members, one of whom has passed away). I worry from afar while they deal with it in their day-to-day lives. I understand the guilt and feeling of helplessness from not physically being there to support them every day. I try to remember that I'm still offering strength and support, just in a different way. I visit as often as I can, talk on the telephone with them and offer financial support. It's not better or worse, just different.

Anonymous said...

You have done what you could do and so much more. You have helped your family threw what you love to do, and threw what you are good out. You have a done a lot more than others. You cant changed what happened,you are doing what you can. Stop beating your self up, there is a passion and such a strong love for your family, and it shows!!!

Anonymous said...

You know what's weird? I sorta had a premonition before this awful storm...I kept telling my husband we have to go do something fun with our son before the summer ends, it was almost forced fun... Anyways, we went and had a great weekend at Knott's Berry Farm...But, I had this weird feeling like a week before this thing hit...I never felt so alone in my entire life, I remember crying and asking for a sign, and that night about 3 am it started to thunder and lightning here in Los Angeles, and I said thank you for giving me a sign, because I believed it had something to do with nature and not my relationship with my husband...The next day, I even told him I felt something bad was going to happen, not with us, but maybe Granma (his mom)...And I also told him to call his brothers there in Waveland that Sunday afternoon, not to lecture, just to talk...And I'll tell you what, he didn't talk to them again until a week later...My premonition was very eerie for me and to this day very hard for me to face, because the core of my body knew something really bad was going to happen...I will always trust my gut from this day forward, always...
Anyways, if you'd like to check out that great pic posted on my site after our trip to Knotts and right before the storm go to:
http://www.opencallproductions.com/sites/cam.shtml I trully believe that trip was a "buffer" to the storm that was about to hit our lives...I know alot of people would call me crazy, but I remember telling my neighbor my premonition, and after everything happened, he definitely doesn't think I'm crazy...I just think I'm more in tune with my energy and had lost touch with it for awhile here in the big city... However, from now on, I'll try to get in touch with that side of me every day, because it's there for a reason...
Anyways, didn't mean to freak anyone out, just wanted to share my story!

Best Wishes and Keep Up The Great Work Clayton!

JoAnn Bush
Los Angeles, CA

Anonymous said...

What a gorgeous photo. What kind of camera did you use to take it?

Anonymous said...

Hold a second: you were a victim of circumstance, that's all. Were it to have happened in another time there would have been a different outcome.

It's the irony that strikes me. One beach a paradise, the other a living hell (I'm not stretching this am I? It looked horrible).

Keep spreading the word. The message needs to continue to reach people. And it it. It's haunting me and I can't imagine I'm alone.

Do your thing.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful photograph. Two gorgeous women, the serf, the smiles...Looks so innocent.

Anonymous said...

Clayton, I know what you mean about the guilt and the surreal quality when normal and unimaginable are juxtaposed. On Sept 10, 2001, I flew in to New York from Minneapolis for a business meeting. The next morning, I was doing my presentation as planned while outside the window I could see the World Trade Center burning. I should have been trying to help rescue people or something, anything but carrying on as normal, but what could I have done -- even firefighters and the police were helpless. And yet I still feel guilty about it and haven't shaken the sense it was wrong to feel normal and happy the day before.

You were helpless against nature when the hurricane struck but you aren't helpless now. In fact, you are in the perfect position, away from the disaster but personally involved enough to make it real for others. You are helping your family now when it really matters, by telling your story. And in doing that you are helping everyone in the whole shattered area because now people outside of it know what it is really like.

Keep going. What you are doing is important and you've got the talent and sensitivity and passion enough to do it. And the strength.