The New Orleans Saints and the Superdome celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the re-opening of the dome after the destruction and havoc wrought by Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005. Here is some oral history from several celebrities. I’ve just selected a few here. You can read more at the New Orleans Saints website.
First New Orleans Saints Superdome Game After Katrina Anniversary
Drew Brees: I would have been in San Diego, California. I was playing for the San Diego Chargers. We would have been getting ready for our first game of the season.
Sean Payton: I was coaching in Dallas and we would have been in our preseason training camp.
Edge: I was in my house in France. We were between two legs of a tour and we were recuperating after a long and hard first leg and first caught the news that there was this hurricane on its way to New Orleans. Then turned on the news channels and just watched as this horror unfolded.
Steve Gleason: The team had just evacuated a day or two before that. So we were in the San Francisco Bay area ahead of the preseason game against the Raiders.
Quint Davis: I was in a fetal position in a hotel room in New York City.
Later Payton would recruit Brees as quarterback, who had had his shoulder severely damaged in a 2005 game, to be quarterback for the Saints. They took a trip to New Orleans.
Sean Payton: I’m driving the car, Drew in the front seat, Brittany in the back seat. I’m driving like I’ve been a resident for 10 years and I’ve only been here for a couple of months. So we went over to the North Shore to look at some housing. We came back and somewhere off the Causeway I ended up, spun around. And I was heading toward Baton Rouge. Now just over and back from the North Shore would take an hour and a half. So there’s that point I look in the rear-view mirror and I see Brittany kind of nodding off and I’m thinking, “I might as well drive them to the airport and put them on the Miami Dolphins plane.”
Drew Brees: “I remember looking to my left and seeing a house that was really just a concrete slab and no house. And then seeing another house that was halfway off the foundation with a truck upside-down in the living room. Then we had to stop because there was a tug boat sitting in the middle of the road upside-down and it was that moment where I looked at Brittany and I remember our eyes met and we knew that this was so much bigger than football. I think we both felt the calling there to New Orleans. That this was just not the resurgence of a football team or an organization, but that it was about the rebirth of a city.”
I’m not much of a football fan, but have always liked the Saints. I remember the night of the reopening watching it on TV. The energy and excitement were palpable. I got goose bumps, my eyes glued to the screen. Of course, the Saints would win that game, it was a given.
Those of us who lived through it, those days and months of wondering what was going to happen to our city, I for one never doubted we’d make it through and rebuild and go on with our lives. Most of it was wondering how we were going to go about doing it. But I also had no doubt that people would move back. What surprised me was that more people from around the country came to help and to make their home here as well.
In many ways the city is better than it was before the hurricane. Sometimes it takes tragedy to ultimately triumph. That September 25, 2006 New Orleans game in the Superdome a year after Katrina told the world “We are back and we will be better than ever.”