Opinion: Resilience is around us; take advantage of it.


A couple walks past Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, known as the oldest bar in the United States dating back to the 1700s, which is closed due to an order from Louisiana’s Governor John Bel Edwards to shut bars and restaurants state-wide to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, La., Monday, March 16, 2020.(Max Becherer/The Advocate via AP)

Gabriella Killett

When I was four years old, Hurricane Katrina hit. My family and I escaped to Jackson, Mississippi for what I thought was a “mini-vacation.” Months later, in the storm’s aftermath, I stayed with my aunts while my grandmother, who raised me, and my other immediate family went home to assess damages. Everything was ruined. Just like that, I was a little girl who had no toys.

Before I came back to our FEMA trailer, though, my dad and uncles gutted our house. I wanted to go home because I thought everything would look the same way it did before. A lot of rain didn’t seem to have anything on a building that was a million times my size then. I begged my dad to let me see my room, and even after numerous warnings that it wouldn’t look the same, I persisted. I was shocked, of course, to find wooden beams in place of my Barbies.

I left upset and returned to the trailer parked in our driveway, and waiting for me was a Cinderella doll my aunt bought from a Disney store in Jackson, and I realized that just maybe those wooden beams could make a home again one day soon.

I was right, and within a year, my childhood was back in full swing. I still had birthday parties, and I played with friends. More challenges came my way, but I overcame those too. I thought, “If these old guys can make my room look pretty after what it was, then I can make it through after being cut from the basketball team.”

The attitude that we as New Orleanians, both natives and transplants, are capable of having toward the crisis that is COVID-19 can be just as resilient, too. We’ve done it before, and we can do it again. I truly believe that there is no other place in the world that will come back as strong as we have and will.

People, natives, transplants, and tourists alike, rack their brains trying to determine what it is about New Orleans. Is it Mardi Gras? The cajun/creole dishes? The humidity? Nope on that one. Is it the people? This is usually the answer because New Orleanians are resilient, unique people, but I want to consider what it is about the people that makes New Orleans stick in people’s hearts.

Upon my own personal assessment, it’s our relationships. Not only do we have ourselves and our city, but we also have each other. Other states may have Southern hospitality, but we have Southern genuineness, and we’ve all been through the mill enough to know not to leave anyone behind.

Think about how lucky you are amid this crisis to be in a place where people want to lift each other up. COVID-19 isn’t nearly as predictable as Katrina, and that’s saying a lot, but we have the will to be rid of it, and when there’s a will, there’s a way.