Love notes to city support ‘Evacuspot’ sculptures

Tyler Mead, Print Arcade Editor

David Morris can still remember the day he saw the destruction Hurricane Katrina caused to his hometown, New Orleans. Afterwards, when he stepped into a house in Monroe, Louisiana, he felt like he was walking into a war-torn country.

A decade has passed, and Morris is now the executive director at Evacuteer, a nonprofit that focuses on emergency evacuation for New Orleans. With the organization’s new Love, Write, Light campaign, Morris is helping give New Orleans a brighter future. Love, Write, Light is a letter-writing campaign created by Evacuteer, in partnership with Dear World and Arts Council New Orleans, which hopes to raise enough money to install lights at each and every Evacuteer evacuation site sculpture.

“The premise is right there in the title,” Morris said. “Even if this place has broken your heart, if you’ve ever loved New Orleans we want you to write your story in the form of a love note to the city, and then if you’re able you can make a contribution towards our efforts to light the Evacuspots.”

The Evacuspots serve as waypoints in case of an emergency evacuation ordered by the mayor. It’s where citizens can gather to be taken to a secure shelter with their entire family. This initiative replaces the plan during Katrina in which 25,000 people stayed in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for shelter.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that they are never going to open up the Superdome as a shelter for people to go to ever again,” Morris said.

New Orleans natives and those who’ve moved here have been sending their love to the city on the Love, Write, Light website. The words of celebrities like Emeril Lagasse and Steve Gleason mix with the average citizen. The letters are heartfelt and tear-jerking, with titles ranging from, “New Orleans, you have my heart” to, “I hate that I love you so much.” The connection people have to this city is something stronger than words can fully define.

“I hate that you are so deep in my soul that I can’t bare to leave you,” Rick Keyser, a contributor to the campaign, writes in his letter.

For many Tulane students Katrina is more of a story. We come from different states, countries and continents, and most didn’t live it. We see the aftermath, and hear about tomorrow. We love this city, and the locals welcome us, and share everything that makes New Orleans special to us. Understanding what the people of this city have gone through is essential for living here.

“People love this city like they love a family member, and you saw that in the way that people fought to bring it back,” Morris said. “They fought tooth and nail to bring it back and they were willing to do anything it took to bring their loved one back from the brink, and there are some strong parallels when you watch families go through their difficult times with a particular family member in a way that the others kind of rally around.”

Evacuteer built beacons dedicated to a better future for New Orleans. Love, Write, Light wants everyone to see themselves as part of that future.

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