Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Debbie and Bud

Debbie Waldman: "We had three generations of stuff in here."

Debbie Waldmann stands outside her flood-ruined home in New Orleans’ Lakeview neighborhood, looking at the hole in the ground where a huge water oak tree used to stand.

"We planted it when she was born, she watched it grow,’ Debbie says of the tree, planted in honor of her daughter’s Sarah’s birth nearly 16 years ago. "When she asked about what happened to our house, the first thing she wanted to know about was the tree."

After fleeing Katrina last August, the family returned to New Orleans in December. Sarah chose not to come to the house, but Debbie and husband Bud found the home had been inundated with six-and-half feet of water in the front and 10 feet in the back. The house will be bulldozed.

Debbie, a first-grade teacher at St. Paul's School, carefully guides visitors through the house. "We had three generations of stuff in here. The water came in and sat here for a month."

"This was our kitchen," she says of a room where appliances are overturned and dishes broken. Nearby, they found Sarah’s Baptism candle. "It was covered in slime, but she wanted it."

Debbie’s ministry books were toppled from shelves, along with "stuff from 28 years of kids I taught." Besides their own ruined belongings, they even found things that didn’t belong to them.

Time stood still in the kitchen August 29, 2005

Bud and Debbie have weekends to work on any salvaging they might want to do. Before the storm, he worked for state hospital in New Orleans as a psychologist. Now, he’s working in Baton Rouge, 80 miles away, getting home when he can.

They’ve been watching the neighborhood come back, but slowly. A few houses away, someone is beginning to put in a lawn, a contrast to the dust and weeds, and the single red petunia blooming on Debbie and Bud’s front lawn.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just saw this, Debbie. You are SO in my prayers . . . as each of you are who are rebuilding. Your amazing faith will be the light that guides your feet down the path . . . even on days when the path seems too steep to climb. I hope this summer brings some peace and some joy as you rejoice in your family, friends, and faith!
Susan T.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Helen said...

Dear Debbie,
You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers as we all struggle to keep faith and hope.

Helen B.

2:23 PM  

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