Born and raised in New Orleans, Jenna Bommer has a soft and gentle Southern accent that only reveals itself when she says certain words. She and her husband Jason met in New Orleans in 1992 and eventually moved to Seattle in 1998. I have known Jenna since 2002. Now pregnant with her third baby, Jenna has commissioned me to photograph all three of her pregnancies.
Jenna and I met to go through her proofs from our shoot on the day after the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. She was almost due and couldn’t eat much because of extreme heartburn. She seemed quiet. When I asked her how she was, she was thoughtful with her reply, saying she had spent the anniversary thinking about the horrible things the people from her hometown had endured and their suffering. She said, “if you are from New Orleans, everyone you know has a story.” But she was quick to comment about how blessed her family was compared to the many families who are still struggling almost two years later.
She choked up telling me the story about a pregnant woman who was walking through waist-high water carrying her toddler while in labor. “In labor, can you imagine?! That poor woman!” Jenna said. “I am so lucky, I just go to the hospital and have my babies. I don’t have to go through any of that.” And there are more stories she says. There are people who are still living in those FEMA trailers. Those trailers are temporary, they are made of formaldehyde and now the families are having all kinds of health problems related to living in the trailers. But they have nowhere to go.
“We were so lucky,” She says. “My parents lost their house and everything in it, but no one died. We all have each other, it has really brought us together as a family.”