Monday, May 16, 2011

Keep this in mind about Butte La Rose

Recently, I've been involved in a lot of discussions about the opening of the Morganza Spillway. The consensus is generally, "This will keep Baton Rouge and New Orleans from flooding." Terrific. I love both cities and hope to live in one or both in the years ahead.

But that water has to go somewhere, and a large part of it is going to Butte La Rose. That's also a place very dear to me. If you've been there, you've probably seen this place:

My grandparents (and our extended family) built it in 1964. It belonged to my grandparents until they both died in 1999. The flood of 1973 barely reached the building, though Hurricane Andrew ripped off part of the roof. My parents owned it until a few years ago, when they sold it to my cousins, who refurbished it inside and out. What you see above is the current Google Street View image. A few weeks ago, I ran into my cousins and they invited me over to see it. I guess that's not happening anytime soon.

From birth through high school graduation, I came here nearly every other weekend. Sometimes more often. I visited sporadically after that; I last went inside the camp in 2004, though I visited Butte La Rose in 2009 for some biking and nostalgia. I had also planned to go sometime this year, but obviously that's in the air now. 

I could write a book based on memories and photos alone, and maybe an encyclopedia if I interviewed family members and friends (I heard some Saints stopped by in 1975; I met Ralph Begnaud there; my brother once talked to Mario Lopez in the yard).

Butte La Rose is in my blood, as it is with many who lived or had camps there. I hope that everyone expressing relief that it isn't them or chiding people for building there think about what it means for those who will be affected. It's a damn shame that we have to flood anywhere in the first place, but it's also shameful how territorial some Louisianians have become in the wake of this. Remember, everywhere means something to somebody.

Just something to think about.


venessalewis said...

Well said. Many current urbanites like myself hail from these more rural areas of the state and definitely feel alot of compassion for the people who are suffering. I actually think that is true for most of our state as a whole...we are such a fatalistic/disaster prone region, that it seems we have developed a "we're all in this together." mindset. But, that's just my perception of it. I wouldn't want an urban vs. rural attitude to evolve, nor do I think it will, simply because most Louisianians grow up and move about in and around the state and have strong ties throughout. Hope the Polka Dot camp still stands in the end. :)

Labrys said...

I feel so sad about the sacrifice of rural lands and homes for the cities. It just seems that perhaps some planning could be done for another solution...and soon. I greatly fear, that with climate change oscillations in our future, more of these great flood events are coming.

I lived in Louisiana as a child, deep in the woods. My husband was born in New Orleans. Watching the news is tragedy to us both.