Watching the New Orleans Saints go up against the Atlanta Falcons at the Superdome Monday night brought back for many feelings of Cayman’s recovery from Hurricane Ivan.
The embattled Saints – lovingly referred to as the Aints by many loyal fans because of their inability to win many football games – became a symbol of the human spirit overcoming adversity when they routed the Falcons 23-3 in American football.
The game meant so much more to the people of New Orleans and the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Following Katrina the Superdome became a symbol of shame for New Orleans.
It served as a shelter to thousands who were forced out of their homes by flood water caused from levy breaks.
Most of those families came from the 9th Ward in New Orleans, where the Superdome sits. It’s an area of the city that’s never been pretty and one where metal bars on doors and windows are the norm because of the high crime rate.
The Superdome received much damage from the storm and the people who found themselves seeking shelter there were scared for their safety in the hot building. Rumours of rape and killings at the dome, which were later proven false, leaked out.
As people have slowly been allowed to return to New Orleans the Saints had to find other places to work out and practice. They became the NFL’s travelling show.
An improved Superdome on Monday night played host to more than 68,000 people there to celebrate its rebirth; many who hoped to erase some of the bitter memories that the Superdome had come to symbolize – the images of misery and suffering of a city plundered by a devastating storm.
Even if you weren’t a Saints fan, you couldn’t help but cheer them on Monday night as they went head-to-head with Atlanta.
They showed the determination and resolve all of us felt as we slowly recovered from Ivan.
To be sure, the human spirit is alive and well here, in New Orleans and the world.
Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina dealt much destruction to the areas they hit. And in both cases it took a while to recover.
The Saints win Monday night is just another of those monumental steps at returning to normalcy that we celebrated as we made the move from a ravaged island to a return to the paradise we knew before.
We still have a way to go, as does New Orleans.
But major successes, be they on football fields, in board rooms or within our families, show that we can overcome just about any obstacle Mother Nature pitches our way.