Pia Z. Ehrhardt's fiction and non fiction.

Posts from the “Katrina” Category

What I Meant.

Posted on March 31, 2016

High-res version

While I waited at the traffic light on Canal Street, a toddler straddled his mother’s hip and kicked off his tiny red sandal. He looked down, wiggled his foot, but didn’t have words. I was driving home from the office with my music on loud. My family had just returned to New Orleans after living for four months in Houston. A continuous rusty waterline cut through buildings and houses. We lived a mile away and on a ridge. The woman stood at the bus stop dressed in turquoise scrubs, and her toddler waved his sippy cup at whoever might notice

 

Continue reading in r.k.v.r.y.

Taking Issue With Katrina.

Posted on November 4, 2015

In 2009, Guernica asked me to guest edit an issue on the fourth anniversary of Katrina. I decided to include writers and artists who’d lived in New Orleans before and after Katrina. I wanted work from people on the ground who experienced her first-hand, and who then came back to go to school, to teach, to help in the rebuild. I wanted work from people who were ready to talk about what happened head-on, or not. Some of us may not have been writing about Katrina, but we were writing after her, and the loss and anger and frustration were fuel. They still are. It’s 2015 and these pieces will always shake me up. Guernica/A Magazine of Art & Politics.

We were like widows with living husbands, available, but taken.

Posted on September 15, 2015

For four months after Katrina, my family split into uneven halves. My husband lived in Baton Rouge, and I took our son, Andrew, to Houston for his fall semester. He went to Jesuit High School and four hundred of the students migrated to Strake Jesuit in Houston. At the emergency meeting held at a Mexican restaurant, the priest we all trusted with our sons, Father Hermes, opened with the Aeneid: “Perhaps someday we will rejoice to remember this day.” We weren’t ready for hope, and wasn’t Hermes the god of mischief? Read more from “The Moms Of Hermann Park”. (Thanks to Mark Yakich and The New Orleans Review)

I WANTED TO SIT CLOSER: Crimewatcher.

Posted on September 10, 2015

We’d been back in New Orleans for just two months when our house was burglarized, and my husband, Malcolm’s, car was stolen. It was February, 2006, Mardi Gras season and freezing. Our son Andrew had gotten home at 11:30 p.m. and he’d not locked the back door. Someone jumped our eight-foot fence, walked through the kitchen and into the front hall, took money out of Malcolm’s wallet and picked up the keys to his SUV. What he didn’t take: a cold beer from the fridge, the Bose radio, the cigar box on the counter stuffed with pocket change. The thief’s stealing was focused: cash and wheels. And he left the back door wide open, which is how Malcolm knew something was wrong the next…

A ruined city, my ruined city, couldn’t compete with what was more important.

Posted on September 5, 2015

On a cold morning in January, my father showed up on our front porch. He said he was in town for a haircut; there was a salon he and his second wife went to in Bucktown, a neighborhood that hadn’t flooded. My husband and son and I had just returned to New Orleans to live together again under one roof. My father didn’t ask for a disaster tour, but I put him in the car and drove him around to see the continuous rusty water line that sliced through homes and businesses, and ran above the front door of my stepson’s house in Lakeview. I explained how they’d lost everything. “Their daughter was born two weeks after Katrina,” I told my father. “I’m sort…

I WANTED TO SIT CLOSER: Losing Daneel.

Posted on September 3, 2015

In August of 2007, our co-worker, Sherri’s, daughter was killed by an ex-boyfriend. He followed her car home, slipped under the arm of the security gate, and then shot her multiple times in her apartment. He went back to the parking lot and killed himself. The complex has them on videotape: Daneel standing her ground, telling him “It’s over, Manny. Go home,” and then walking back up the stairs to her place, Manny in his car, getting his gun from the glove compartment, loading it with bullets kept in the trunk, walking back up to Daneel’s, then back down to his car before putting the gun under his chin. It took him thirteen minutes to die. Read more. Re-published on THE NERVOUS BREAKDOWN. Many thanks to Brad…

I WANTED TO SIT CLOSER: The Skeleton Key.

Posted on September 3, 2015

I started tutoring the Moorhead sisters twice a week at their charter school on Napoleon Avenue. It was one of the first schools to open after Katrina with 319 students enrolled. The Moorhead sisters got to school by city bus. They had evacuated Katrina late – in a rainstorm – and saw the car in front of theirs drive over the spillway. Everyone in it died. Their family had lost their home and they’d relocated to a double on Elysian Fields. Their mom was an RN at Touro Infirmary, but she’d decided to open her own catering business. The sisters were both in the 7th grade because LaDell had repeated. She was quiet and serious, with a smile that tripped me up, it was…