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Published: August 2006

New Orleans Portfolio

Clothing Dirty

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Last year's Gulf Coast hurricanes upended landscapes and lives. Much will be rebuilt, but much is gone forever.

By Ernest J. Gaines
Photograph by David Burnett

Yes, New Orleans will bounce back. Taxis and buses and limousines will leave hotels and casinos, cutting in and out of traffic to deliver passengers to Louis Armstrong International Airport. They will pass by homes and apartments and offices and neighborhood grocery stores and neighborhood bars that had been, now gone but for the debris.

Yes, New Orleans will bounce back, because the taxis and buses and limousines will bring people back from Louis Armstrong airport to hotels and casinos, passing by the debris of Katrina. New Orleans will come back because the debris of homes and lives will eventually be cleared away from the streets, and the people in the taxis and buses, and especially those in limousines, will look out the window and forget what had been. Yes, after clearing all the debris of clothing and toys and furniture—refrigerators and TV sets and armoires and chifforobes (bought from Sears, Roebuck in the forties) and dressers and washstands and old pianos—and handbags and tricycles and broken dishes and dolls with one arm and no head and old laceless boxing gloves—after all this has been cleared away, New Orleans will come back.

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