Hurricane Isaac spun into New Orleans seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina hit the region in 2005. The storm dumped more than twenty inches of rain in less than twenty-four hours. The resulting flood carried this two-thousand-pound burial vault in Plaquemines Parish more than two miles from its cemetery, depositing it in a front yard next to stairs from a neighbor’s house. I was in New Orleans after returning from a nine-month trip documenting the climate crisis around the world for my project, The Witness Tree. I saw the devastation of storms in other countries; now I was witnessing it on home ground.

In 2015, I traveled back to the area to see how the recovery was progressing, and to find out what happened to this crypt. I was pleased to discover that the vault had been repainted and restored to its resting place under a large living oak tree in its original cemetery, with metal brackets now bolting it to the ground.


To view more of the artist’s photographs about climate change, visit her website:

Carolyn Monastra received her MFA in photography from the Yale School of Art. Her work has been exhibited in venues across the United States and in China, Northern Ireland, and Switzerland. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. 

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Published in the January 2021 issue: View Contents
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