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Katrina Plus Ten: Ten Years Ago Disaster Brought World’s Attention to New Orleans

August 29, 2015Patrick NunnallyRiver Meaning, RiversComments Off on Katrina Plus Ten: Ten Years Ago Disaster Brought World’s Attention to New Orleans

Ten years ago, on August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Louisiana Gulf Coast.  What followed was a disaster of unparalleled magnitude in recent United States history, an event and its aftermath that forever changed ideas about urban resilience, the relationships between cities and the water bodies on which they are located, the roles of race and class in disaster response, even whether some cities in vulnerable locations should even be restored after disaster struck.  The Mississippi River was almost an afterthought during and immediately after the storm; the river itself did not flood the city and the most damaging levee breaches occurred in other locations.  Nevertheless, we feel that serious, sustained examination of the relationships between communities, water systems, urban space, and lived experience in the 21st century should start with at least a rudimentary examination of Katrina and its aftermath.

This is the first of ten blog posts examining crucial facets of the online coverage a decade after the storm.

Ten years ago, at about 9:45 am CDT on August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana.  The state, the region, the Mississippi River, indeed the nation will never be the same.

Hundreds of articles, blog posts, newspaper and television stories are marking the 10 year anniversary of the storm.  For the next 2-4 weeks, this blog will make note of some of the key themes, arguments, perspectives and voices being heard.  What have we learned? What has changed? For whom?  The responses get at the heart of contemporary understandings of community, water, people, and the relations among those components of our world.

To begin, we link to an article by Richard Campanella, a geographer, author, and teacher whose work really should be the starting point for any exploration of New Orleans that encompasses needing to know the physical dimensions of the city. Campanella’s web page includes his Twitter name (follow him–he’s fantastically thoughtful and well informed) and generously includes downloadable copies of much of his writing.

Here is Campanella’s exploration of the “Katrina lexicon,” “how we talk about a disaster so monumental we can’t agree on what to call it.”  As usual, he gets to the heart of the matter–Katrina and its impact are so enormous that we can’t decide what it really is, was, or means.

In a series of posts over the next few weeks, though, we’ll share some of the stronger efforts to understand Katrina with you.  The storm and its aftermath are simply too important not to explore, however challenging and painful said exploration may be.

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