Mar
2008

Katrina: An Unnatural Disaster

I’m so happy Leisa posted the link to this in her Twitter stream. I think I had heard of this project through the Open Society Institute, but never got a chance to read more or watch the student-produced videos until now.

The Katrina Media Fellows’ mission is stated as follows:

Through stories and images, the fellows aim to deepen public understanding of the government’s long-term response to Katrina; failures of public policy; use or misuse of public funds; the role of private contractors; the effectiveness of clean-up and rebuilding efforts; the psychological impact on residents, now more than two years after the storm; and lessons that should inform the handling of future disasters.

One of the most powerful videos, considering the subject of my dissertation research, is the one entitled “Not As Seen on TV.” Not only does it let locals speak for themselves, it shows the pain that permeates the city still today. (However, I actually wish less edits were made because I think some interviewees were on the verge of sharing more and, while that may be uncomfortable to watch, how else can their grief be honestly represented and understood?) Still, heavy emphasis is also made on the music, culture, and humor of New Orleanians, with one interview subject stating it quite plainly, “New Orleans is not just a place, it’s our soul.”

I’m in the midst of revising my own narrative which deals with my denial during the week of August 29, 2005, and watching this only reminds me of how my parents could have also been part of those people left behind had the storm not hit the magic number 5. I truly think that’s the only thing that convinced them to evacuate at the last minute. While they were lucky and never had to live in a FEMA trailer, I know we are all still trying to deal with the loss, the gutting & buy-out of our home, and the feeling of “not knowing when this was going to end.”

Even though I blog about this quite often, it’s not something I voice out loud much, probably because I’m still suffering from the pain and anger of things being forever changed by the levee breaches. Because I’m not living in NOLA now, and because when I visit I see friends who seem genuinely happy with the way their lives are going, it’s easy for me to purposefully forget how traumatic it must be to cope with the many changes that have occurred the past three years.

All I can do though is write my story, share the blogs of those living there now, and try to remain as involved in the city’s recovery as possible.

In fact, next week when I am there for the Conference on College Composition and Communication I’ll have a chance to meet again with fellow New Orleans bloggers and have my first ever “tweetup” with eve11 who I’ve connected with through Twitter. Her blog is wonderfully written and I’m looking forward to both talking to her about a term she introduced me to called “naked blogging,” and donating my OLPC XO laptop to her proposed children’s social media project!

Watch this space for updates on this next week. Til then, go watch the videos at the Soros site.

One thought on “Katrina: An Unnatural Disaster

  1. That’s one of the great things about new social services such as twitter – it allows to learn about things that might not be covered in the media

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