Prom and graduation in Louisiana

Louisiana teen Samanta Perez’s heartbreaking — and heartwarming — story of her senior year in the wake of Hurricane Katrina now stretches to graduation and beyond.
Here’s an excerpt:

Maybe home is a memory. Everything in my life is always changing. I’ve become a gypsy again. Last week, I was living in Ponchatoula, then I spent a few nights in a hotel, and after that, I found myself in St. Bernard. In only a few months, I will find myself in a dorm.

But what if a new hurricane comes and takes that away? Katrina, Part II: The Hurricane’s Revenge. It’ll be like the Jaws series all over again, and no one ever wins in those movies. Trust me. There are always way too many sacrifices and deaths than are really necessary. Maybe one day, they’ll learn a perfect way to kill Jaws without having any casualties. Then again, it’s not like we have rebuilt the means we have to protect ourselves from the monster. No, we invite it in. We welcome the abomination. We welcome disaster because we don’t take the proper precautions to prevent its coming. Instead, in the end, we have to use drastic means. We shoot a tank in the shark’s mouth to destroy the creature, and we airlift helpless people from the roofs of their flooded houses.

Sometimes we learn from our mistakes, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes, we watch our normalcy be destroyed and we work hard to rebuild what we have lost.

Perez has worked hard to rebuild what was lost — and so much more. Her journal is a brave, wonderful glimpse into a national disaster that we’ll be recovering from for the rest of our lives. If you haven’t read it, grab a box of Kleenex and start at the beginning. Her words will stick with you forever.


Catch her latest pieces — and the many that came before — on The Tattoo’s website at:

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