Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Resurrection after Hurricane Katrina


IMG_5191 Resurrection - Tiffany Studios of New York
"Resurrection", c. 1894
Executed by the artists and artisans of the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, NY, NY
Restored by the artists and artisans of Associaton of Restoration Specialists, Hoboken, NJ


Wikimedia


On Thursday, August 25, 2005, the moderate Category 1 storm named Katrina made her first landfall in Florida. At end of day, Katrina traveled to the Gulf of Mexico where she gathered momentum over the weekend. By Sunday, she was a Category 5 hurricane.

On Monday, August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made her second landfall, this time she assaulted the southeastern Louisiana coastline. Her storm surge caused 53 different levee breaches in greater New Orleans, submerging eighty percent of the city.
Wikimedia

It was surreal to watch the news reports of my husband’s birthplace and our concern for his many relatives there was unbearable. Nearly all of his family members had already evacuated New Orleans over the weekend, but one aunt chose to ride out the storm. Sleep was difficult until we heard from her on Wednesday afternoon. By this time, most who evacuated had run through their two-to-three day supply of essentials and those who are hosted by loving family and friends are beginning to worry about overstaying their welcome. Each and every single one wanted to know whether their home was underwater, but accurate news about the state of the city was hard to come by.

We all hungrily read George’s account of his trip back into the city:

Sent: Fri 9/2/2005 8:43 AM
Excuse the grammar and typos I am quite tired
Hello all I just made a trip in to New Orleans with the assistance a friend in the military. Believe me I was quite concerned for my safety, before we left I was given a handgun and instructed on how to shoot to kill. Not that I don’t own hand guns and have been shooting before but getting instruction on how to kill humans from someone in the military and knowing I may have to was not too exciting.
We left and took I-10 from Baton Rouge about midday today and went through 2 check points before finally getting to Causeway and I-10, the intersection is being used as a transfer point for people leaving the city, most of the area is being used as a helicopter port they are taking off and landing constantly. It was raining and there were hundreds if not thousands of people huddled under the overpasses waiting for buses as well. The helicopters were mainly evacuating hospital patients, they would drive or boat the patients to the location and then fly them out, however they could not get them out fast enough and unfortunately there were many dead bodies there as well.
After a brief stop there (I stayed in the car) we headed down causeway to river road. At the airline overpass you could look to the left to see the city however it was being blocked by thick black smoke something in the city on the uptown side was burning bad. I still don’t know what it was. River road was already cleaned so that there was access to ochsner however you could not get down any of the side streets well maybe one or two but it wasn’t little trees, you would need more than a chainsaw to get through entire oak trees were down. I was expecting to see more damage to homes however it was only a little roof damage here some siding there not a lot of broken windows but the debris was beyond anything I could have imagined uptown does not look the same way, what you see on tv what you think it looks like multiply that by 100 you may be close.
We got to the parish line and things changed. Oak street was about knee deep in water and we saw people, I will refer to them as "urban outdoorsmen" since this email may get passed along, in the street. Perhaps looters but we didn’t wait to find out. We turned on river road the street was fairly clear but we did have to jump up in the rocky area next to the railroad tracks to get through, good thing we had a four wheel drive.
Eventually we made it to st charles and turned towards broadway my goal being to check on my house. I know this was crazy but it’s the not knowing that drives me crazy. When we hit broadway and st charles we could go no further without driving on the neutral ground there was a very big tree down right on the other side. We turned up broadway, at the intersection of freret there was a car parked we weaved past and then there was water. The flooding was not too deep nothing I haven’t seen before it was not over the neutral ground. I knew then that there was no water in my house (its raised about 5 feet) I still wanted to know was there a tree on it? were the doors blown open? was there roof damage? was it looted? We were now at zimple and broadway moving slowly due to the water and one block away appears a bunch of “urban outdoorsman” I don’t think they were up to no good, they weren’t carrying tv’s or any thing like that but there were about 8 of em. My escort was afraid of being car jacked if we drove any closer. We considered parking the car and walking but we didn’t want the car to get looted. He said “you have a gun if you want to go ill wait”. The thought of having to use it was not to appealing, splitting up we both agreed was not a good idea. So there I am a mere 2 and ½ blocks from my house and we had to turn around.
Plan B – carrollton to claiborne to broadway
Carrollton was full of debris as well like I said just unbelievable if they could dump it all in the marsh we could solve part of that coastal erosion problem. We made it to oak street the only real significant damage to property I saw being the nice canopy over nicks. At the rite aid on oak I saw the forklift used to open the steel door still there just like in the picture I think we have all seen by now. However there was one more thing there – a looter I took a pic its quite blurry his arms were full of stuff he could barely see over his loot, we sped by. All of the side streets going back to broadway were impassable and we soon failed with plan b when we couldn’t get past birch street – there was just way to much debris.
We turned around and set forth on our other goals, all in Metairie (we cancelled the remaining new Orleans ones due to anarchy). Metairie is dry, a puddle here and there but we were never unable to get anywhere due to water. The canals were low as well. However we had to drive the wrong way down many a major thoroughfare. I know Aaron Broussard said people could come back on Monday but anyone would be crazy to go. Major street are passable, barely in some places, one lane usually, but we needed to break out the chainsaw (which we had) to get through side streets. Additionally there are no traffic lights etc if too many people show up it will only make things worse. On a very positive note for Metairie entergy was at work with new poles up on west napoleon form clearview to transcontinental and the linemen beginning to work the wire.
Our goal was C’s parents’ house off of avron and clearview. C’s neighbors stayed so we knew her house was high and dry no water,, or any damage of any kind (she lives right off cleary and w metarie if you were curious). We made if to her parents’ house they had about 18” of water in the house it was all drained. We picked up some meds and a case of wine and headed out. We made a little detour to JA’s house on kawanee by east jeff hospital. The damage there was the same, water in the house and there were some shingles missing as well. We took more pics and left.
Last stop zephyr field fema is set up there. While there we found out that the coast guard was ceasing all rescue attempts until they could get bullet proof vests and handguns for everyone. We then left on our return to Baton Rouge.
I took pictures on the trip, I wish I had taken more but the shock of it all - you just stare and look and forget to take the camera out. It was also raining very hard so the windows on the truck were up, and lastly C forgot to charge the battery so it died.
Hope everyone is doing fine.
George

By October 4, 2005, the official death toll from Hurricane Katrina was 1,836 with more than 2,500 still missing.

With devastation all around, once in a while a silver lining appears. During the cleanup activities after the hurricane, seven Tiffany windows were rediscovered in a storage area of Tulane University.

In 1894, Mrs. Josephine Newcomb commissioned Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company of New York to create three lancets in memory of her daughter, Harriott Sophie Newcomb. The “Resurrections” triptych depicts the risen Christ speaking to Mary Magdalene.

IMG_5193 Supper at Emmaus - Tiffany Studios
"Supper at Emmaus", c. 1895
Executed by the artists and artisans of the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, NY, NY
Restored by the artists and artisans of Associaton of Restoration Specialists, Hoboken, NJ


The following year, Mrs. Newcomb’s closest friend and counselor, Mr. Frank Walter Callender commissioned a coordinating triptych. “Supper at Emmaus” is based on a painting by Rembrandt illustrating the risen Christ and his disciples. Simon, Paul, and Cleophas mistake Christ as a fellow traveler and did not realize until preparing for an evening meal that they are the presence of their Lord.

Supper at Emmaus, 1648
Rembrandt van Rijn, (Dutch 1606-1669)
These windows were in the original chapel of Newcomb College, now part of Tulane University. When the college moved to its present location, the windows were removed and put into storage. They are now installed in the Newcomb Art Gallery of Tulane University.

Read more about Newcomb College’s impressive art program in their newsletter. Pages 7 and 8 of the Summer 2009 edition covers the relationship between the Newcomb College and Tiffany Studios of New York and their role in bringing the English Arts and Crafts Movement to the United States.



I thank George for allowing me to publish his e-mail and congratulate him and all others who survived the devastation for their unflagging spirit of optimism. Having just returned from New Orleans and seeing its vibrancy return stronger than ever,  I believe the rediscovery of these works of art was a fulfilled promise of resurrection to its citizens.
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