Written by Poppy Tooker, former leader of Slow Food New Orleans
On August 29th, exactly seven years from the day that Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the surrounding area, a new storm blew in. Isaac was not expected to be much of a storm event as it came onshore as a mere category one.
Lester and Linda L’Hoste, organic citrus farmers in Braithwaite, LA and Crescent City Farmers Market vendors did not evacuate. As lifelong residents of Southern Louisiana, they had ridden out many a storm and believed this one was just going to bring a small amount of wind and rain.
The family enjoyed dinner together and Linda had spent the evening baking cookies before losing power about 10 pm. At 2 am Lester’s phone rang with the news that the levees were in danger of being overtopped and that they needed to evacuate. The water was rising quickly as the L’Hostes joined fifty other Braithwaite families trying to get out. Soon, it became apparent that it was too late as water rushed over the top of the levee reaching the floorboard of the truck, trapping them there.
Many Slow Food USA members will remember the L’Hostes from efforts made after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. At that time, chapters across the country came together in countless ways to help farmers, fishers and chefs of Louisiana rebuild the local food system following Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. That fall, the U.S. Ark of Taste committee sprang into action boarding several indigenous Gulf Coast foods suddenly endangered in the storm’s aftermath including the satsuma.