Must We Really?

Katrina 15

I looked at the National Weather Service this eve so I could plan out some gardening ventures, and realized it’s about to be the 15th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. 💀

I haven’t written a lot about that. Except for a few posts here, and a few thousand emails to everyone getting in touch after the storm when I was one of the only priests in the area with email. Getting the Navy in touch with the Archdiocese was interesting – I went through contacts in Bolivia.

But I was too busy helping and rescuing to be typing away here. Katrina’s a rabbit hole everyone here goes down from time to time.

I’m going to look up some of the pics I took and recite a few memories and get them out of the way. It was horrible – but it was also an amazing time. Where awfulness abounds, grace abounds all the more.

If I had to do it over again, would I do anything differently? 🤨

Heck yeah! But when you don’t have to evacuate and your one of the few priests in a hundreds of square miles radius during a once in a lifetime emergency and you’re an INFP, you just do what you have to do while everyone who’s left town calls you lazy or asks you to empty their refrigerator, or check their house, or say a Mass, or get in touch with the Archdiocese, or see if their relative is still living, or meet them on a naval ship in the river, or meet the President, or give them permission to clean the debris outside of the Cathedral and a lot of other Churches because no one else in the Archdiocese is around, or give them tours around the city because they’re reporters and don’t know where they are, or pray for the soldiers in their command as they’re deeply traumatized, or go and identify bodies of those who have died. 🙄 Someone told me once that they had lost everything in the storm and I didn’t know what it was like – I had to remind them that my dad died in it.

It was a horrible time for everyone, and it’s over with and done. No need to relive any of that mess.

Scientifically, it’s fascinating. Emotionally, it’s time to admit it’s in the past.


On Martin of Tours, and on Wikipedia Being Wrong about Katrina

Wikipedia has a lovely article on Martin of Tours. It’s very well documented.

This was especially informative:

While Martin was still a soldier in the Roman army and deployed in Gaul (modern day France), he experienced the vision that became the most-repeated story about his life.

One day as he was approaching the gates of the city of Amiens he met a scantily clad beggar. He impulsively cut his own military cloak in half and shared it with the beggar.

That night, Martin dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak he had given away. He heard Jesus say to the angels: “Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized; he has clad me.” (Sulpicius, ch 2). …

Small temporary churches were built for the relic [of the cloak] and people began to refer to them by the word for little cloak “capella” that these churches housed. Eventually small churches lost their association with the cloak and all small churches began to be referred to as Chapels[3] .

Interesting! It’s documented from Daimaid MacCulloch’s A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. I completely did not know that.

Use some common sense with Wikipedia

More often than not the articles are accurate because people read them and if they are wrong, log in and correct them with proper notation. It’s sort of like a self correcting, group thesis.

But sometimes you see information before it’s corrected and if you have no reference points you could easily start to bandy about false information. I can easily understand why it’s not a valued source for academic research. (It could easily be a great source for helping to gather sources though.)

Take for instance their article on Katrina which is wrong.

The Wikipedia entry states, in the section on Federal Preparation: “On the morning of Friday, August 26, at 10 am CDT (1500 UTC), Katrina had strengthened to a Category 3 storm in the Gulf of Mexico. Later that afternoon, the NHC realized that Katrina had yet to make the turn toward the Florida Panhandle and ended up revising the predicted track of the storm from the panhandle to the Mississippi coast.”


Katrina was nowhere near being a Category 3 Hurricane on the morning of Friday the 26th of August, 2005. Trust me, I know this.

If you’d like to do some looking up, you can start with these links:

NOAA’s Katrina Section

National Hurricane Center’s Katrina Warnings Archive.

Or the NHC’s graphics page, which clearly shows that at 5pm EDT on Friday August 26, 2005 Katrina was just off the coast of Florida and had winds of 100mph, which is a Category 2 Storm.

You can look almost anywhere and find that the article on Wikipedia is clearly wrong in stating that Katrina was a strong Category 3 storm in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday Morning.

The fact is, it was nothing of the sort. On that fateful Friday, forecasters were predicting the storm would swing up into the Florida panhandle. Later Friday evening the news came out worse.

People went to bed clueless, and most people learned about it on Saturday morning.

Which is why a million people weren’t able to pack up and head onto the road until Saturday morning at the earliest if they were lucky, with the storm starting to blow in with strong winds by Sunday evening. It’s also why so many people were not able to take many things with them. It was an incredibly rushed, get up and go type of situation, filled with foreboding.


I corrected the Wikipedia article, and got a note back that I was wrong and contradicted the sources. (Duh…)

So I corrected it again, and again, responding in kind each time, yet it remains blissfully ignorant and wrong.

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

It’s just wrong. And it’s wrong that it’s wrong.

I have spoken, and I rest my case. But those are the facts and they are indisputable.

St. Martin of Tours, pray for us.

Katrina Anniversary

Yesterday was the Sixth Anniversary of Katrina, and it’s a sign of great improvement that I didn’t get around to posting about it until well, until today.

But, I’ve never gotten around to doing anything with these photos, so I decided to start posting them here. I know you’ll love them!

Er.. Hello? Helllooo…?

They’ll make it into a separate page, because why be maudlin? But it’s definitely a part of my early Priesthood, and a part of history. And I have things to say about that experience.

I have things to say about a lot of things that have happened along the way, as a matter of fact. Just you wait, I’m telling you.

Read more

The Middle of the End of the Road

I don’t know why I’m so intent on writing up this little road trip I took, but I am. The land has changed so much in the last few years, and actually seeing it surprised me.

(Here’s a great site on Visiting St. Bernard Parish, which is a part of the drive I took. However, I followed the course of the river, and wasn’t visiting St. Bernard per se. And here is a series on Louisiana coastal erosion.)

Because today is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, and one of the first days of school, we’re actually on the busy side of things.

But let’s just get through this exercise, and then we can get on with all of the other very important things about which I blog.

Because you see, this actually does have a point. But we’re getting bogged down in … well. Chalmette.

I’m sorry Chalmette, it’s nothing personal. It’s just, you were a throughway in my ultimate quest to reach the end of the road. My pictures of you are bland, unimaginative and lifeless and don’t do you justice. I know. And, if you watch the video referenced from the US Parks website which discusses the amount of water and damage the Chalmette Battlefield suffered in Katrina, the announcer keeps pronouncing Chalmette (which sounds pretty much how it looks,) as… ‘Shallmay’.

Shallmay, just to the south of New Orleans.

Shall we go to Shallmay?

May we stay in Shallmay?

Let us be off to Shall-May ….

So far we’ve driven through the Marigny, Bywater and the Lower 9th Ward. And Arabi, too.

Chalmette Battlefield, Cemetery (by Debora Rubi) from Our National Parks on Vimeo.

Here is the video where the poor parks spokesperson keeps referring to Chalmette as Shallmay. I feel sorry for her.

chalmette battle field

The Beauregard House is a main attraction at the battlefield, and generations of New Orleans schoolchildren and scouts visit it and learn about it regularly. It’s a part of the Jean Lafitte National Park system.


I especially admire the cool lyres which form the lightening rods.

chalmette battle field

You’ve probably been able to parse out that the battlefield is not a highlight of most visits to the New Orleans area, on most days. It does have it’s moments. But the blazing hot, steamy, torpid afternoon I visited was not one of them.


The Beauregard House has its moments…

living room

The three feet of water during Katrina have been cleaned up nicely.

beauregarde house

When I was a child, you would visit here and there would be women in ante-bellum dresses greeting you at the doorways and telling you all about the place. I thought they were a little strange when I was a kid, and didn’t really want to talk with the ladies.

rocky and carlos

At some point in your life, you have to go to Rocky and Carlo’s. You just have to. And bring a healthy appetite. Just go. Do it! You just have to; it’s fun.


“De La Ronde Ruins. The remains of what was once the finest mansion in the Chalmette vicinity. The British used it as a hospital in 1814—15.”

From the Visit St. Bernard site, which explains the Battle of New Orleans and the pivotal role this location played in it.

alley of trees

And then it’s off to continue down the river, under this memorable spread of oaks, as you leave behind the wondrous land of Shall-May, and continue on to road’s end.

To be continued…

The End of the Road

Fort Jackson

I drove down to Fort Jackson today. It was a pretty pleasant drive aside from a dramatic rainstorm. The road along the Westbank of the river ends right past Fort Jackson, since the river ends a bit after that.

I was expecting a sign saying something along those lines, which I had read about in a book discussing the Mississippi River Bike Trail.

But there is no sign. The road just ends very unceremoniously, and very unattractively.

flushing the lines

I hadn’t expected the ride to be such a potent reminder of Katrina, which was perhaps naive of me. At any rate, I’ll have to leave off tonight with this intriguing photo taken at the farthest point south on the Eastbank road along the Mississippi, shortly after Pointe a la Hache.

I’ll write about the whole trip in the next few days, surely there are some spiritual lessons to be had. Ciao.

The Rev. Kenneth Allen