Little did the writer know that her plans to take her boyfriend sightseeing would mean a last look at her favorite city before its destruction.

I made plans to take my boyfriend to New Orleans for the first time on August 28, Friday before Hurricane Katrina hit. Like two wide-eyed five-year-olds, we loaded up my car in Houston, hopped on I-10 and headed East to what we thought would be a magical weekend that could only be experienced in the Crescent City. I planned to take him through the French Quarter, introduce him to beignets and sit him down at my mamma’s table for all the comforts of true Southern cooking.

We arrived in the city, said a quick hello to my family, and began our excursion at the River Walk. What we hoped would be a leisurely afternoon shopping and dining turned into a frantic rush through the shopping complex as storeowners shut close their doors and boarded up their windows. We made our way to a beignet shop to scarf down the decadent dessert. But the more businesses we saw boarding up, the more we began to take things seriously.

We had barely been in the city 24 hours when we were forced to evacuate. At two o’clock Sunday morning just before Katrina hit, we loaded up the car once again and joined countless others making a mad dash out of the city, back to Houston. I couldn’t help feeling a twinge of sadness as I looked back at my hometown and prayed that it would still be around for me to enjoy next summer.

Misty Starks is a writer and editor at Texas Southern University.

Tomorrow: Going Home Again

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