Years before when my dad lived in Houma, Louisiana for a short time while on a work assignment I went to visit him the weekend after Mark Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated. He took me to New Orleans, where he and my mother had a Monte Gras honeymoon. So it was a sentimental journey for him and an eye opener for me. We arrived on Palm Sunday and went into heart of old New Orleans and into the empty St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square between services and in each pew were palms laid out for the parishioners who would soon arrive. On the evening news we saw there had been a huge demonstration outside those doors only hours after we had left.
On another trip to Louisiana, I got to visit United Houma Nation members in their homes and it is today I look into the Palmetto basket and find inside the note that it had been made by Rose Pierre, Marie Dean's daughter. The United Houma Nation is a state recognized tribe of around 17,000 tribal members who are spread out across the southeastern coast of Louisiana. They like many other tribal peoples around the country are basing back to our cultural ways, such as bringing back the artistry of basket making, using the available materials native to our homelands.The Houma use palms to create their unique baskets. I got to visit with tribal basket makers and see the accommodations they have had to make to be able to live on ancestral homelands. They lived in tall houses. The first floor could be used for water to pass through and hopefully beneath the second floor where they lived since they have the unfortunate disadvantage their land is actually disappearing due to coastal erosion.
What General Honore said that evening about the surge of water being 15 to 20 feet and unsurvivable left the Houma on my mind and all of their neighbors for parishes around.
Water connects us to these people, uncontained unstoppable water. Hurricanes for them which many studies show the worsening of these storms are caused by human-caused global warming and for us, uncontrolled political whims, the power to control water and the water level in Grand Lake for whose advantage? Where is our outrage? And how will we speak of it? Do what about it?
Our floods have been survivable.
We will survive the next flood. But a flood is a dirty deal, a deal I never wish to have happen to another person. How are we speaking of this to powerful people? Do we imagine we will not be heard? We will not be heard if we do not speak out. We will survive, but we could do a whole lot better than just survive. We want to thrive. We want to wake in the night during the rainstorm and just turn and go back to sleep, like lots of real people do all over, but those of us who stay quiet, the polite ones of us inhabit homes that are at risk here and in neighborhoods all over this country. We are the discounted people, people who will lose all we own in the next flood and will start over and over.
Water connects us. And it also floods us. That is why LEAD Agency has become a member of an organization called Higher Ground, the largest flood survivor network in the country. The network is composed of 51 member-chapters from 20 states plus Puerto Rico, serving a total of 500,000 flood survivors and their neighbors. Our connections are stronger as the water rises and we understand we are no longer alone. It is also the reason LEAD Agency is a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance which works to ensure every community worldwide has drinkable, swimmable, fishable water with our Grand Riverkeeper and Tar Creekkeeper!
There are several interactive maps out there. You might look at floodfactor.com and type in your zip code and observe the predictions, then you may want to join in on a Louisiana rendition of Georgia on My Mind.
And keep all our flooded relations in mind as well.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim