Katrina Symbology

It’s kind of strange, but some people have adopted the big search-and-rescue X as some sort of symbol for Katrina.

When Freddy Yoder returned to his flooded Lakeview home after Hurricane Katrina, he was taken aback by the big orange “X” spray-painted on the plywood covering his front door. There was a notation in each quadrant, indicating the date searched, by which agency, whether the house was entered, and whether any corpses were found.

It was the first thing to go into the debris pile.

“I want to get rid of everything that reminds me of the storm,” he said recently as he stood in front of his restored Victorian-style home. “I’ve seen enough of that to last me a lifetime. … It’s permanently embedded in my mind, and I’ll take it to the grave with me.”

To most, the crude, neon-colored X’s are too-vivid symbols of death and destruction. The sooner they’re erased, painted over or discarded, the better.

But to some, like Bywater glass artist Mitchell Gaudet, the disaster graffiti is part of the city’s historical landscape. And preserving it has become an act of defiance.

“It was like a stigmata,” says the third-generation New Orleanian, whose girlfriend has re-created the fading yellow glyphs beside the front door of his antebellum home in raised, black, torch-cut plate steel. “Like a little badge of your survival.”

I think maybe people are thinking too much, but there’s no accounting for the strange things people do.

For those that are curious, here’s the definition of what goes in each quadrant:

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