On This Fifth Anniversary…

of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana (this upcoming Sunday), I want to remind everyone about Dave Eggers’ incredible book, Zeitoun.

Here is what I wrote immediately following completing this book in July:

I feel like there is so much to say about this book, almost too much.  It’s completely captivating.  It’s non-fiction, which I didn’t know until I was about 80% of the way through.  It truly is a story that shows that truth is stranger than fiction.  It’s sad, it’s hopeful, it’s shocking, it’s upsetting.  It’s about Katrina, from the perspective of a man, Abdulrahman Zeitoun (a Syrian immigrant turned US citizen), who lived through the hurricane, its aftermath, and beyond.  It’s about his family, his wife, Kathy, and their four children.  It explains by showing, not by pedantic lectures.  It is powerful.  And it is a must read.  Thank you to Dave Eggers for writing it down.  And thank you, more than anything, to the Zeitouns for sharing it with all of us.

I love this book even more as more time passes.  It sits with me, in my mind and my heart.  I think of it often and I am infinitely grateful that I read it.

More on Katrina, 5 years gone:

Brian Williams did a Dateline episode that aired a week or so ago about the five days surrounding Katrina, including his own personal experience in New Orleans reporting at that time. NBC can’t actually run the special on Sunday because there are more important things going on, namely the Emmys. But it is on YouTube. Part 4 (of 6) is here [Trigger Warning for really, really upsetting stuff. It made me cry, gasp, look away. This was/is America.]:

Spike Lee talking about his new documentary about NOLA, Katrina, and BP that has recently aired on HBO (which I, unfortunately don’t have), “If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise“.

The end of Spike Lee’s 2006 documentary about Katrina, “When the Levees Broke“:

A “sneak peak” of the Frontline/ProPublica PBS “Law & Order” special they showed this week:

Let’s Never Forget.  Oh, please, let’s never forget.


And in case you are thinking that we are in post-racial America, never underestimate the racist spew from commenters at Fox News, especially on a Katrina story about how little progress has been made in the Lower 9th Ward since the hurricane.  For example (and these are all different comments from only the first of 5+ pages):

“I’m sick of the Katrina whining.”

“It is unfortunate that they survived the flood but I hope they die where they are and never come back.”

“Put the residents that went to Houston on buses and send them back. Make them earn their keep for once.”

“The difference between Betsy and Katrina is not the amount of destruction that occurred, but the will of the people after Betsy to take matters into their own hands and rebuild their lives instead of depending on the government to do it for them. Like many have said in their comments, the 9th Ward was a welfare state at the time of Katrina and all those people only know how to depend on the government and can’t do for themselves. This is a sad example of the direction the current government wants to take the rest of the country.”

“I don’t mean to be ignorant but didn’t the people in the ninth ward have insurance?”

“If the welfare folks who waited on the government to rescue them rather than take responsibility for themselves would return from their cushy welfare life in Houston perhaps they could be put to work rebuilding……But, no! They would rather remain where they can deal dope and destroy the once nice apartments they were provided. New Orleans has not recovered……well, neither has Houston.”

“Who cares.  Get a Job.”


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