This past week marked the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and its devastating effects on the western Gulf Coast states, especially – and most infamously – on the city of New Orleans. Almost 2000 people died as the hurricane crashed into the Mississippi Delta and then overloaded the dilapidated and antiquated levees of The Big Easy. $81 billion dollars worth of damage, most of it to homes, local businesses, and schools, made it the most expensive natural disaster in US history. Arguably, the costs are still being paid, though, with further degradation of the wetlands (begun by development but, once thinned, sorely beaten by the storm surge) and the ongoing efforts to rebuild New Orleans.
Director Spike Lee went to New Orleans in the fall of“When The Levee Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,” to document the devastation and give some voice to how and why such devastation might have occurred. He was to return this summer to film : “If God Is Willing And Da Creek Don’t Rise.” He got more of a story than he planned.
The timing of his return meant Spike Lee was there to capture some of the first reactions and responses to the BP/Deepwater Horizon disaster this past April. The sequel to New Orleans and Katrina developed and expanded into the story of southern Louisiana and the oil spill as well.
According toand press release about the sequel, “A lack of affordable housing is one of several serious ongoing problems faced by the city’s poor, especially the primarily African-American residents of the devastated Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard’s Parish. The four large public housing developments have been shuttered and rents have soared… Only 38% of the private homes destroyed in the hurricane have been rebuilt”
The struggle of the Gulf coast generally, and New Orleans particularly, will be our focus for a couple of our blog postings this week, including a review of Mr. Lee’s documentaries. Please return to follow this anniversary of events tragic yet full of everyday heroes.