It would be nice to think families directly impacted by September 11th would be somehow immune to additional misfortune. Yet, as we learn now in the wake of Katrina, that is simply not the case.
At the intersection of two national tragedies, one family faces an uncertain future. For Christopher Saucedo, his wife, and two children, the losses are already immeasurable.
“We're a family that has had a September 11th tragedy and we're a family that has been displaced by this hurricane,” says Christopher Saucedo. “It seems as though we've been through the flood and the fire already here.”
First came the fires.
“My baby brother, Gregory, was a firefighter at Ladder 5 in Manhattan and he responded to the very first alarm. With all the men from Ladder 5 and none of them came home,” reflects Saucedo. His 31-year-old brother was last seen making his way up the North Tower. The body was never found.
Now, four years later, forced out of their New Orleans home by hurricane Katrina, the Saucedo's returned to New York to honor Gregory's memory a little earlier than usual. But, they will be staying a lot longer than expected.
Saucedo, a professor of sculpture at the University of New Orleans, packed up his family the day before Katrina hit — for what they thought would be a quick trip to Houston while the storm passed over.
When they realized returning was not an option, they drove their pick-up 1,800 miles to the family home in Brooklyn.
While his children enrolled at their new schools last week, Saucedo traveled to Washington to receive the Medal of Valor in his brother's honor, returning in time to be with his family on the anniversary of 9/11.
While their home remains under water and their future unclear, in the midst of crises there comes, if nothing else, perspective. To Saucedo, his current problems are “minor.”
“Greg is dead and that’s tragic,” says Saucedo. “My house is under water and that’s a major inconvenience.” Their family still considers themselves lucky.
“I don’t like to think about poor old me kind of stuff,” says his wife, Donna. “I really like to focus on the fact that we're lucky there are people who are way more worse off than we are — who are still there and got stuck there. I think we're lucky.”