Five-year anniversary of Katrina

Volume 1 Issue 2   

Yesterday was my five-year anniversary.  It was September 1, 2005 when I found out about this devastating storm that hit on August 29, 2005.  How could one not know about the hurricane heard around the world?  One way is to be at the bottom of the Grand Canyon on an eight-day river trip.  Each year I join a Grand Canyon Expeditions Colorado river rafting trip as a Photography guide.
S-rig white water raft
On August 24th, I met with my 28 students in a conference room of our Las Vegas Hotel to explain to them how we would photograph 100 wild rapids, majestic desert bighorn sheep and mile high canyon walls.  None of us had a clue what was brewing in the Atlantic.  The next morning at 5 AM we took a bus to Lee’s Ferry to begin our adventure with no radios, cell phone or any communication with the outside world except a signal mirror and a satellite phone that was hidden in the Guides box and only to be turned on in emergency.  We had no emergency on this wilderness river, unlike friends and family back home that lost lives, homes and their way of life.  Some with problems still going on today.

On September 1 our trip ended at South Cove in Lake Mead. Our two 37 foot s-rigged rafts were pulling up to the truck with long trailers when I heard one of the drivers yell, “Where is CC Lockwood, I have a packet of letters and a newspaper for him”.  I was startled, for never in 29 previous Colorado River trips had anybody been waiting for me at the boat ramp with a newspaper.  When I saw the cover of USA Today showing the Superdome surrounded by water, I did not have to read the headline mentioning Hurricane Katrina to know that we had the big one.
80% of New Orleans flooded by Hurricane Katrina
I knew with the loss of 2,000 square miles of marsh and barrier islands along coastal Louisiana that it was only a matter of time before New Orleans got the Sockdolager, which means knock out punch in German and is also the name of one of the bigger rapids I had just run in the Grand Canyon a few days before.  With a ton of trouble I managed to fly home the next night and get in the air and on the ground to photograph the wake of destruction left by Katrina on Louisiana’s vanishing coastline.  Much more to come in future blogs about this subject so critical to all Americans. 

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