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When The Levee Breaks

Media coverage of Katrina has included stories of levees protecting areas from the hurricanes potential storm surge. Merriam-Webster defines levee as “an embankment for preventing flooding.” In many cases it’s a protective barrier intended to hold back a negative force (water) from human life. Levees are built to withstand considerable onslaught, but once a levee is breached, and the security it provided gone, there’s no protection left from the outside forces.

One memorable image was of floodwaters flowing just inches below the top of a street sign. It was a pale blue sign that read “Humanity St.” It was as if the sign was struggling to stay above the waterline, but it was drowning. The smart ones heeded evacuation warnings and fled from a situation when the levee could not protect them. The warnings were numerous. They came from police, the media, friends and family. Others ignored the warnings. “Oh, it’s not even like that.” Many of them are dead today. Destruction rushed in without care or remorse and drown them. Then it simply flowed away.

For those lucky enough to survive the destructive power, countless are left without homes. Their homes are just gone. Taken from them. The comforts of home… gone. Beds, bathrooms, comforters, a place to cook a meal, a place to watch TV or communicate on the Internet, a place to feel protected. Gone. Sadly, for many, “When The Levee Breaks… have no place to stay.”*

*”When the Levee Breaks” by Memphis Minnie, covered by Led Zeppelin on their fourth record, also known as the “ZoSo” record.


  1. Anonymous

    …but then there are the countless stories of those that realized, in a moment, that they needed to take action and survived the destruction. The stories of the kindess of strangers and finding a community to surround you when you were not even asking for help; you did not even know you needed it. I get the methaphor, my dear friend.

  2. Anonymous

    So did the levee hold and the cat land on its feet again?

  3. Anonymous

    Tragedies of the subject aside – I was looking at this very album just a couple of weeks ago when packing up my attic. The memories that came rushing back into my mind when I opened up this album and saw the illustration of ‘The Hermit’ by Barrington Colby Mom… Made me realize the artwork we miss out on today. The things we lose when going for better….-M.

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