Disaster, Response and Renewal

“Poor people don’t stand a chance down here.”
LaShandra, who did not want her last name used, was standing on her porch just off of St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans’ St. Roch neighborhood. A few blocks away, the tenth annual Katrina march and secondline, billed this year as the “biggest secondline ever,” wound its way from the site of the Ninth Ward levee breach to Hunter’s Field.
But LaShandra wanted no part of it.  Sure, she’d made it back to the city, but she saw little reason to celebrate.

(photo: Evans family home in the Turkey Creek neighborhood of Gulfport, MS, by Leah Mahan)

From now through the end of August, communities across the Gulf Coast will come together in order to commemorate ten years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall. Below are some of the scheduled events:



On Monday, April 20th, Gulf Coast fisherfolk, residents, and artists gathered at BP's Houston headquarters to speak out about the ongoing impacts of the BP oil disaster. Advocates said fisheries and the communities that depend on them are in serious decline. “When BP says it has done right for the Gulf, they are lying,” said Thao Vu* of Biloxi, Mississippi, "Less than 18% of the health claims submitted have been approved and even fewer have actually been paid out. While BP plays games with our media and with our court system, our fishing families are sick and suffering.”

With the kids out of school and things slow for the holidays, I have been using the opportunity to get myself better organized a bit for the year to come. I have amassed quite the collection of business cards, papers, reports – bills too, lol – over the last five years of this journey, and it has been both daunting and liberating to weed out that which has been uselessly taking up space in my life.

Since 2010, I've followed the development of Margaret Brown’s documentary The Great Invisible, which explores the BP disaster with great care, artistry and respect through the eyes of people on many sides of the issues, from survivors of the rig explosion to unemployed seafood workers and representatives of government and industry.

Undeterred by the blazing sun and high humidity of a mid-August afternoon in Biloxi, Mississippi, Tuat Nguyen and Bien Do moved nimbly around their shrimp boat, making last-minute preparations to leave for Lake Borgne, where the Louisiana shrimp season would open in a few days.


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