Anyone who has witnessed the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina can vouch for the fact that it was one of the most devastating natural disasters in U.S. history. Wrecking the lives of thousands of people across Mississippi and Louisiana, it left around 300,000 homes either destroyed or unfit to live in. The economic damage caused by the hurricane totaled more than $125 billion, with the irreparable loss of 1,836 lives.
It has been eleven years since then and piece by piece, people have put their lives back together. The memory of the hurricane is nothing more than a very realistic nightmare as people have moved on to new chapters in education, careers, and romance.
A Hurried Exit
One inspirational story that surfaced after the hurricane is of Greg Drevenstedt. Greg and his wife at the time left their bikes, a Honda VFR750 and a Suzuki Bandit 600, and most belongings in their second-floor apartment in Louisiana when Katrina struck. They only had enough time to grab some of their belongings, their cats, and some gasoline as they hurriedly left for Florida.
A Bittersweet Return
Upon returning home the couple found that, by a stroke of luck, their house’s windows had not been destroyed by the hurricane, thanks to their landlord who had covered the windows with plywood. Not only this, but as people’s refrigerators lay in streets with rotting food inside them as a result of no electricity, their refrigerator was empty and spotless. Moreover, their bikes stood exactly where they had chained them, albeit with green vines creeping into them as a result of a few months’ neglect.
All around the couple, there was devastation. Greg remembers walking by The Confederates Motorcycle Shop one day, where he had taken one of his bikes to be prepped before a test. The shop was in pretty bad condition as the roof had fallen in, but thankfully the bikes had been evacuated earlier.
A Change of Course
Greg sees the hurricane as a catalyst to forging a new path in his life. He realized he needed move out and through an already dwindling marriage. After his divorce, Greg realized that he had neglected his bike for far too long, and set out on a road trip. While Greg’s ties to his hometown prevailed even after Katrina, he decided to head towards the southeast, following the eastern edge of the Mississippi River. He finally ended up on an empty levee of the Mississippi, in Plaquemines Parish.
Eight months after Katrina, in the spring of 2006, Greg decided to leave Louisiana for Los Angeles. He did, however, visit New Orleans again a couple of times. On one of these trips in 2009, he met Zachary and Maxwell Materne, two members of the family that owns the Transportation Revolution. The TTRNO is a large-scale European motorcycle dealership, with one of its many branches in downtown New Orleans. For Greg, people like these were a source of inspiration as they had pulled themselves up after the devastation Katrina had brought.
As for Greg, he acquired his current job working as a staffer for Rider magazine in 2008. Even though it was the hurricane that made him move out of Louisiana and find his current job, his rocky relationship with New Orleans, ever after Katrina, has never truly died.