The Austin Ch30nicles
How landing in Austin after Katrina was made just a bit easier
Remember That Issue … When Hurricane Katrina Hit and Austin Called Me Home?
After seven years in New Orleans, I found myself back in the place where I was born and raised. It was September 2005, and I had evacuated for Hurricane Katrina. I was utterly shell-shocked, angry, scared, and despairing for my city, my friends, my house – and for the death of my faith in the American government to protect and provide for its people. I had no television and had grown more than weary of the shit showing on CNN and Fox anyway. Desperately I searched for other sources, for a point of view that didn't make me want to set something on fire. I had missed The Austin Chronicle intensely when I discovered that NOLA's weekly equivalent didn't quite match up to the journalistic standards to which I had grown accustomed. I had been reading the Chronicle avidly since I was 12 or so and was spoiled by the familiar bylines and lack of fluff. (To the Gambit's credit, Katrina was an unfortunate catalyst for shifting the writing and content up many levels; the paper has since become a gem – plus, it has the "Blake Pontchartrain: New Orleans Trivia" column!) It was a relief to come home to Austin and be able to turn to my hometown paper and read about all of the services being provided to people from New Orleans, as well as objective articles that turned a sharp eye to the utter travesty that was FEMA's response (or lack thereof).
I'm writing this on the sixth anniversary of Katrina, and I'm still raw – I'm still crying tears of rage at the way so many people in places of privilege discounted and dismissed thousands of their fellow citizens. It was in the pages of The Austin Chronicle that I read about Barbara Bush's suggestion that Katrina evacuees were better off in Houston's Reliant Astrodome than they had been in their homes. It was through the Chronicle's "Katrina Relief in Austin" sections that I discovered that the Academy of Oriental Medicine was offering to treat people from New Orleans for free. For the next two months, I learned about all the various churches and community centers that had donated clothing and household goods. I read about where to go get help from the Red Cross, where to take free yoga classes, and where I could attend all the various benefits and shows being held to raise money for evacuees. I made use of all of those services to get myself back to a place where I could sleep at night again without waking up in a cold sweat.
The Chronicle serves as a voice for Austin, and with that voice speaking to me, I felt grateful to have a childhood home to return to. – Angeliska Polacheck, artist, blogger (www.angeliska.com), event producer (Gadjo Disko, Vintage Vivant), and bon vivant
"Second Wind," Sept. 16, 2005, Vol. 25, No. 3
The introduction to "Best of Austin" 2005, Oct. 14, 2005, Vol. 25, No. 7
"Barbara Bush Halloween Mask" cover, Oct. 28, 2005, Vol. 25, No. 9