Monday, December 14, 2009

the bright field - 13 years later

On December 14th, 1996 - Elizabeth, Sara, and I were at the Riverwalk mall shopping and buying Christmas gifts. While Elizabeth and I were in the Gap dressing room (Sara had gone down the hall to the Cafe Du Monde), the building started shaking and things started to feel really wrong. "New Orleans isn't on a fault line" was my first thought. At the time we didn't know that a huge (HUGE) container freight called The Bright Field was side-swiping the building. Only in New Orleans would be you in a Mall that was hit by a boat. The Gap was to the right of the photo below (image courtesy of John Z.).

Luckily (miraculously), no one died in the accident. The Gap store room and dressing rooms would eventually fall into the water and at first people mistook the mannequins for people. Most injuries came from the people jumping off the docked Casino boat - directly in the path of the boat (it stopped before it got there). However, it was a pretty scary experience and to this day I still jump a mile high when rooms shake (often because there is heavy truck rolling by). I don't know why I live in the land of Earthquakes! I almost didn't apply to schools out here because of it... my mom had to convinced me!

So why did it happen? A loss of engine power at a critical turn in the river. The Coast Guard and NTSB later attributed this loss of power to poorly maintained oil filter.

5 comments:

  1. First, I am glad you were ok. Second, did you have on a fabulous pair of khakis before evacuating?

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  2. haha - I was in my own clothes! Some people ran out in clothes they were trying on and I believe they got to keep them! At least I wasn't in Victoria's Secret as some people were!

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  3. Hey, that's my photo! (but I don't mind you using it for this)

    If anyone wants to see the original and another one I took, they're at http://www.flickr.com/photos/eighttrees/2293551226/in/set-72157603991174613/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/eighttrees/2292765605/in/set-72157603991174613/

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  4. Thanks Lee! It was certainly a memorable day and I appreciate your photo. My friend had sent me this photo - so I was never quite sure were it came from. Thanks for setting me straight!

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