This is what I see every time I walk out my front door. That pole doesn’t look like much. It doesn’t look important or like it imparts a lot of information. It doesn’t look like a monument to one of the worst disasters in U.S. history.
But that is what it is. That pole, with its green-blue glass ring and painted base are the last marker of the levee flood levels on Elysian Fields Ave. A few more blocks down and you reach the Mississippi river. These poles are spaced every few blocks up the 5 mile distance of Elysian Fields from the Mississippi river to Lake Pontchartrain. Mine is the last and lowest. When you reach the lake the green-blue glass ring and paint stretch far above your head.
These poles are an understated monument. There is no bronze plaque that explains what they symbolize. There is nothing to tell people what happened or how many people lost their lives or everything in their lives. There are no crying statues or pictures. There are only these silent poles.
The watermark poles aren’t for tourists. They are for the people of New Orleans. They stand as a simple and stark reminder of what happened to the City and her people. We don’t need explanations or pictures or crying statues. The City, her streets, and her people remember those all too well.