New Orleans, Louisiana - Wisconsin
Schnauzie, Stuffed Animal
While studying items that refugees and immigrants brought with them on migration, I thought of this memento-- a stuffed animal-- that I acquired when my family evacuated from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
My family left New Orleans the day before Katrina hit. We brought the necessities when we evacuated to Wisconsin (only clothes, no toys). I was confused and lonely, so my mother took me to a toy shop during our first day in Wisconsin. I grabbed this little dog with a moustache to be my friend. “Schnauzie” is a small, gray stuffed schnauzer with discolored fur and knotted whiskers after fifteen years of wear and tear.
For three months, I cuddled Schnauzie in my cot. I held him when we slept in our car on the way home. He then stayed in my bed every day afterwards. He made me feel comfortable in the most uncomfortable moments of my life. Schnauzie keeps me grounded and reminds me how privileged I was to safely evacuate and return home.
Hurricane Katrina caused one of the largest mass exodus in US history. About 1.2 million Louisianans evacuated across the United States, and to this day, New Orleans has not reached its pre-Katrina population.
By George Carlson