The Saints finally return home, in a city that needs them
The damage done elsewhere only outweighed the inconvenience. As for the Ruffins, Ida calls Katrina’s younger niece, back to check on everyone. High winds and flooding like the city of Lafitte to the south and west of New Orleans, where in the immediate aftermath Owen Belknap, a volunteer for Cajun Navy Relief, patrolled the streets in a boat. Belknap grew up in the Superdome with a photo from that first game, when Katrina hung on a wall, and it inspired her to follow her family across state lines, from house to house, one totem at a time and as a reminder did.
“No matter what storm hits us, we’re still going to be a community that cares for each other,” Belknap, 22, a student at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, said on the phone Saturday. and loves each other and sees the saints together.” “That tradition is comforting and reassuring. It tells people that things, as bad as they may seem, are going to be okay. “
Not long ago, as someone typed “New Orleans Saints” into Google Maps, this is what would have led to: “religious institution.” For them the passion is practically cosmopolitan, with a cherished rhythm that persists even after natural disasters. Last week on FaceTime, Moses, 37, shared how a close friend of hers caused serious damage to her home in Edgard – “everything was completely underwater” – remarking how she had no time to see the saints. was nowhere to be found.
“No internet, no house, no car, and people were still looking for a way to see the saints,” Moses said. “Everyone who could just open their house.”
It had been 21 months since the Saints last played in front of a Superdome crowd, when Minnesota kicked them out post-season in January 2020. Drew Brees leads New Orleans, but is no longer succeeded by another quarterback, who acknowledges his role in helping the city. recover from devastation. Jameis Winston, a son of Gulf, promised at his first news conference since being named the team’s starter to represent the fans well, and has donated water and thousands of dollars to aid in the rebuilding effort. .
The Saints play in a stadium that is Louisiana’s most important building, a cultural touchstone that home football feels less like a sports venue than a spiritual revival on Sunday. The Superdome doubled as a haven during Katrina and became a symbol of so many elements of the human condition: suffering, despair, rebirth. Its roof caught fire on September 21 – “At this point, you’re thinking, like, ‘What else? Jordan said—and as the Ruffins processed the absurdity of it all, he recalled a favorite saying: Only in New Orleans .
Sitting on top of a stool in Kermit’s Trem mother-in-law lounge one morning last week, where after Ida gave away almost a week of free red beans and rice, Ruffins mentioned how her parents were playing their game at Tulane Stadium. He wore a paper bag on his head. . His father, Lloyd, whom he said oversaw the cleaning crew at the Superdome when it opened in 1975, allowed him to run on Superdome turf years before playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” Was. After Katrina, his first purchase was a big screen television, lest he miss his saints.
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