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Water Memories

Sister Patricia Rogers was principal at St. Mary Academy in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit. She had been in that school for three years. The school was not rebuilt. She left New Orleans with five other Sisters. After 11 hours on the road, a man and woman they had never met offered their home to the group, providing food and needed medication. After a week, the Sisters were invited to stay at a convent in Rayne, LA.  Sr. Patricia is now Director of Vocation Ministry for the Sinsinawa Dominicans in the United States and living in Chicago.

Ruben and Sandra Blancas welcomed Sr. Patricia Rogers and co-workers into their home during Hurricane Katrina. Front, center: Ruben with grandson, Alex. Back, from left: Sr. Cynthia Marie, Sr. Maria Consilia, Sr. Patricia Rogers, Sandra, Monica holding Mya, and Sr. Marie Antoinette, and Sr. Jennie Jones.

Water brings to mind different thoughts and memories for different people. Listening to or watching a slow moving stream, a waterfall, or waves on a lake or an ocean is a spiritual experience for many. The calming effect of water can create positive energy and inner peace and helps some commune with God.

Water’s many properties and characteristics are what make water so special. Its beauty and calming effect are so romanticized in our culture that we overlook the damage poor water quality has on life and water’s power to destroy.

Hurricanes are storms that form over a body of water. A hurricane is composed of high winds, rain, and thunderstorms. The reported by-products of a hurricane are tornados, floods, wind and hail storms, mass destruction, and deaths.

August 29, 2005, marks the date of the worst flood in U.S. history. Most people name this event Hurricane Katrina, but the fact is Katrina did not hit New Orleans. Inadequate levies were the cause of these devastating flood waters. All who witnessed the rising, rushing water fill the city first hand or the aftermath a few weeks later have a new understanding and respect for water.

The TV accounts of the flood in those first few hours could only cover the destruction of property and life. The real devastation in those first few days of the flood was the loss of family. As time and days moved on, the devastation was loss of community, friends, and livelihood. Water had caused the separation of family members, displaced neighbors, parishioners, schoolmates, and coworkers and friends and left people without the means to survive. Many family members, friends, and neighbors have been reunited. Some were never found, and some will never be reconnected or reunited.  The loss of people through displacement and distance is hard for the non-natives who became part of the New Orleans’ community. Our lack of financial or family ties to the city and our unwelcome need to live elsewhere have created feelings of hopelessness in returning and reconnecting.

As a non-native who was privileged to "move on" away from the everyday presence of devastation, the loss is different but painful. Living without the presence of those who surrounded me daily or the folks I looked forward to seeing in the market places and in church is my devastation. Most people plan a move away from family, friends, or a city. Most people have the option of a farewell party, or how and if they want to say goodbye. Even if one left in a hurry, often there’s a chance to return to familiar faces and places. My stolen chance to say goodbye and the impossible task of locating familiar faces created a hole that only time can fill.

The threat of storms will forever cause me to think of the children in New Orleans who cry each time it rains and of the community I loved. I pray that those affected by storm waters will someday soon remember the romantic water thoughts they once had.

by Patricia Rogers, OP (Sinsinawa)








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