When the Levee Broke


For anyone not yet suffering from Katrina fatigue and still interested in trying to comprehend the disaster, here’s a film for the queue. I’d intended to post this on Saturday, amid the flood of tenth-anniversary media coverage, but perhaps it’s better as a coda in the wake of it.

There is still an incredible amount of misinformation about and exploitation of this American tragedy. As an antidote, here’s Mike Miley’s review of Low and Behold, “aesthetically stunning…(and) one of those rare commercial films about a large-scale tragedy that manages to express something true and meaningful without coming off as pandering or exploitative…the best film about Hurricane Katrina that most people have never seen.”

Four Poems, Ten Years After

Herbert Gettridge, 83, mows the lawn in front of one of his houses in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans August 21, 2006. Gettridge, who built the house next door in the early 1950s, and has been living in that house since March. His house was gutted and renovated by volunteers. He has not decided what to do with this house, which has extensive structural damage. A year after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, few residents have returned to the Lower Ninth. Photo © David Rae Morris.
Photo © David Rae Morris

Ten years ago today, New Orleanians braced themselves for Hurricane Katrina, some boarding up their houses and evacuating, some remaining in the city by choice, and some remaining because they had no way to get out. Much has been written on Katrina since then, but little with the emotional honesty and power of Katie Ford’s poems. She writes “Poems aren’t necessarily historical markers, although they do come from situated, earthy places and are written by citizens who live, for better and for worse, under a particular government, a particular president. Poems, it might be said, aren’t at home in the history books.” Katie Ford was there ten years ago; here are four poems from her 2008 collection Colosseumpoems situated honestly and squarely in the heart of it, and are indeed historical markers.