If you asked someone today, “What was the greatest disaster in New Orleans history?” you would likely hear the answer, “Hurricane Katrina.” While Katrina was in fact one of the greatest disasters in our history in terms of sheer numbers, the Great Fire of 1788 physically devastated a higher percentage of the city.

The fire started when candles lit in observance of Good Friday ignited the curtains in the private chapel of the military treasurer’s house on Chartres Street. Spurred along by a strong south wind, the conflagration spread through the town, consuming 856 homes and laying waste to four-fifths of the city. Losses to homes and vegetation were widespread. One flower that played a major role in replenishing the plant life of New Orleans is the Oleander.

The Oleander was introduced into New Orleans from Cuba at the time of Spanish rule, and planted in patio gardens after the fire. Oleanders have since become prominent throughout the city, adorning city parks, private gardens, and neutral grounds of many avenues. In 1923, the city council commissioned the Oleander as the city flower of New Orleans.

The significance of the stylized Oleander in our logo reminds us of the importance of the role of insurance in rebuilding after devastating loss. But there is also a deeper, more personal meaning to its choice and placement atop the key. Our business is a family business, started by our father, Felix Garcia, nearly 30 years ago. He came from Cuba to New Orleans to start a new life after fleeing the oppressive conditions that had overtaken his home.

The key signifies our personal, geographic story joining Cuba to North America. The top panel of the Cuban coat of arms depicts a key charging a blue ocean between two landmasses, symbolizing Cuba’s position as the key to the Gulf of Mexico. Our past is Cuban, but our home is, and always will be, New Orleans.