Newest Issue - February 2006

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Riding Out the Storm

It was more than two months—nine weeks to be exact—before Patricia A. Garcia returned brief­ly to her law office in New Orleans’ Lakeview area after fleeing Hurricane Katrina in late August. She lives in a Houston apartment for now, and she came back to fetch whatever might be left of her files and belong­ings, as well as look for the same in her nearby home.

As expected, there was nothing left at the office. The water had nearly reached the ceiling and stayed for weeks. After it receded the building was gutted by cleanup crews, leaving only the skeletal frame interior of two-by-fours and electrical wiring—and the acrid presence of mold.

Now, on a foggy autumn afternoon, Garcia scans a pile of debris—mostly mashed wallboard and pink clumps of fiberglass insulation—behind the one-story bungalow where she shared space with a title company. A wall plaque from the dentist’s office next door juts from the pile.

“Oh, my diplomas,” Garcia groans with surprise when she spies the plaque. In the mental cataloging and inventory that has played over and over in her mind for a couple of months, she had missed that one. “They’re gone, too.”

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