I fled New Orleans late Saturday, August 27 knowing that life would dramatically change for all of us, but I could not imagine the carnage left in Katrina's wake or the indifference of the people and agencies who had the ability to help us but did not. I returned to my mother's home in Gretna, across the river, on Sept. 17, just in time for Rita's landfall on Sept. 23. My timing sucked and I thought at one point that I would lose my mind! I was able to return to my Uptown neighborhood on Oct. 3. What a shock. One third of my house's roof was missing and the rainwater had soaked the living room furniture, soaked the plaster, which had mildewed and fallen from the walls and ceilings. The front of the house was uninhabitable. My normally busy neighborhood was deserted. There was one other person besides me within a 3 block radius. Eventually other neighbors returned. My neighbors were close to me and we helped each other out as much as we possibly could, and a closer knit community developed as a result of this hardship. I learned first hand the value of good neighbors, and that I could survive just about anything.