A girl from St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, Samantha answered our call for young writers who lived in the path of the hurricane as it came roaring toward New Orleans.
Then about to begin her senior year of high school, Samantha wrote beautifully and bravely -- sparing no words in her honest assessment of the storm's wrath and aftermath. She minced no words in telling what it did to her life, her family, her home. She kept it up for a year, showing incredible commitment to sharing such an important story.
On this Independence Day, almost eight years since that awful hurricane hit, we revisit Samantha's Fourth of July entry in her Hurricane Journal:
July 3, 2006
-- Hurricane Journal --
Lost freedom on the Fourth of July
By Samantha Perez
Monday, July 3,
Before — before the hurricane — things were different.
Everyone looked forward to July because it was so special to all of us. Almost every weekend during the summer, I would spend at the camp we had in the Violet Canal, but the Fourth of July was different. The water was different then. The water was alive that day. It was bright and it was smiling because my entire family and the people raised as my family were out on that water, cooking things on the grill and laughing.
The Fourth of July was my favorite time of the year. It meant an entire week with my cousins and my aunts with their amazing stories to tell and my uncles who give my family its magic.
Every year on the Fourth, there was the annual parade. The boat parade! The water balloon fight. Most people would have spent the entire week before the Fourth out at their camps, filling water balloons and keeping them locked away in ice chests. We would use empty two-liter soft drink bottles to fill the balloons, pumping the water in.
The parade started at noon, sometimes starting in the Horseshoe area, other times in the canal called Happiness. We’d throw balloons down to the people in the boats, and they’d throw them at us.
Uncle Wayne would always cheat. He had his race boat, gorgeous and glistening with glitter red... Read the rest here.