the day after the storm

I survived 11 days in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. As an artist I knew I could not pass up the opportunity to be a witness to a Hurricane of this magnitude. After the storm passed and I surveyed the damage I immediately thought we dodged a bullet.  Soon after the news started to spread of the leeves breech. Its was my responsibility as an artist to document everything. I had a friend loot the Rite Aid on St. Charles who gave me every roll of 35mm film they had in the store. I grabbed my bike and camera and headed to the 9th Ward with a new found friend who had no front teeth. As we made our way to the disaster area the first confrontation we faced was the Fire Department. There was a building on fire on Canal street and as we got closer a fireman was on his knees pointing a rifle at us. We turned and went the other way. As we made our way into the French Quarter there were police officers everywhere wearing black t-shirts that read New Orleans as Lil’ Baghdad. I remember thinking how could they get t-shirts made that quickly and during the storm. One police officer asked me what I was still doing here. We headed back uptown and our next confrontation was a car of plain clothes officers with automatic weapons and rifles pointed at us out of both car windows with doors open telling us to get off our bikes and put our hands on our head and get on our knees. We did as they said and they let us go. Our third and final confrontation all within 2 hours was a caravan of mercenaries (police officers from other cities with a license to kill) riding around in a milk truck followed by a car of men and women with automatic weapons. The man on the passenger side rolled up to us pointing a 45 and said what were we doing here. I told him I’m an artist and my studio is down the street and I have a right to be here. He stated he didn't like my attitude. The car behind him realized we were not armed and yelled at the men in the truck to move on. I would later learn that the milk truck was used to load the dead bodies of the murdered men. I could have been one of the murdered men. What did they do with the bodies? As we returned home it dwelled on me that I almost lost my life three times in one day. It was New Orleans version of ethnic cleansing.