Floodlines - Hurricane Katrina and the Disaster in New Orleans

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Fishnut
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Floodlines - Hurricane Katrina and the Disaster in New Orleans

Post by Fishnut » Thu Jun 18, 2020 3:11 pm

I want to recommend the podcast by The Atlantic called Floodlines. It's about Hurricane Katrina and the disaster in New Orleans that followed. I'm posting this separately rather than as part of the podcasts recommendation thread because it's a short series and touches on so many different issues I'm hoping that it will generate some conversation. There's transcripts available for those who don't like podcasts too.

Even before listening you can probably guess that racism and poor governance played major roles in the disaster. What I didn't realise was just how much racism played a role in the coverage of the disaster. It was treated as a law-and-order problem rather than a humanitarian disaster. The press spread racist rumours without substantiating anything (all those rumours about snipers shooting at helicopters - not a single report of it actually happening and no damage seen on any helicopter, yet the rumours were sufficient to slow aid responses). The language used was clearly equating the majority-black citizens as little more than animals. The stories about the police response (trigger-happy, prone to escalating situations to deadly effect) sound so familiar now but were painted as 'officers doing their best in stressful situations'.

The final episode has an interview with Michael Brown, the head of FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) at the time. It has to be heard to be believed. He basically says that in disasters people can't expect the government to help them. I wish I was exaggerating but I'm not.

The podcast is a few months old but it feels incredibly timely and I can't recommend it enough.

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Re: Floodlines - Hurricane Katrina and the Disaster in New Orleans

Post by tom p » Thu Jun 18, 2020 4:25 pm

Fishnut wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 3:11 pm
I want to recommend the podcast by The Atlantic called Floodlines. It's about Hurricane Katrina and the disaster in New Orleans that followed. I'm posting this separately rather than as part of the podcasts recommendation thread because it's a short series and touches on so many different issues I'm hoping that it will generate some conversation. There's transcripts available for those who don't like podcasts too.

Even before listening you can probably guess that racism and poor governance played major roles in the disaster. What I didn't realise was just how much racism played a role in the coverage of the disaster. It was treated as a law-and-order problem rather than a humanitarian disaster. The press spread racist rumours without substantiating anything (all those rumours about snipers shooting at helicopters - not a single report of it actually happening and no damage seen on any helicopter, yet the rumours were sufficient to slow aid responses). The language used was clearly equating the majority-black citizens as little more than animals. The stories about the police response (trigger-happy, prone to escalating situations to deadly effect) sound so familiar now but were painted as 'officers doing their best in stressful situations'.

The final episode has an interview with Michael Brown, the head of FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) at the time. It has to be heard to be believed. He basically says that in disasters people can't expect the government to help them. I wish I was exaggerating but I'm not.

The podcast is a few months old but it feels incredibly timely and I can't recommend it enough.
That Brownie, he did a heck of a job, didn't he?
This looks interesting, thank fishnut.
On a related tip, if you haven't seen Treme, you should. it's a drama about the city coming to terms with the aftermath of Katrina. Utterly brilliant, from the same guy who brought you the wire, and featuring a musician friend of mine, who got paid good money to move to New Orleans and act, the lucky bugger.

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Fishnut
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Re: Floodlines - Hurricane Katrina and the Disaster in New Orleans

Post by Fishnut » Thu Jun 18, 2020 4:32 pm

tom p wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 4:25 pm
On a related tip, if you haven't seen Treme, you should. it's a drama about the city coming to terms with the aftermath of Katrina. Utterly brilliant, from the same guy who brought you the wire, and featuring a musician friend of mine, who got paid good money to move to New Orleans and act, the lucky bugger.
Thanks for the recommendation. It's been on my "really should check that out one day" list for goodness knows how long.

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Re: Floodlines - Hurricane Katrina and the Disaster in New Orleans

Post by JQH » Thu Jun 18, 2020 5:20 pm

Fishnut wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 3:11 pm
I want to recommend the podcast by The Atlantic called Floodlines. It's about Hurricane Katrina and the disaster in New Orleans that followed. I'm posting this separately rather than as part of the podcasts recommendation thread because it's a short series and touches on so many different issues I'm hoping that it will generate some conversation. There's transcripts available for those who don't like podcasts too.

Even before listening you can probably guess that racism and poor governance played major roles in the disaster. What I didn't realise was just how much racism played a role in the coverage of the disaster. It was treated as a law-and-order problem rather than a humanitarian disaster. The press spread racist rumours without substantiating anything (all those rumours about snipers shooting at helicopters - not a single report of it actually happening and no damage seen on any helicopter, yet the rumours were sufficient to slow aid responses). The language used was clearly equating the majority-black citizens as little more than animals. The stories about the police response (trigger-happy, prone to escalating situations to deadly effect) sound so familiar now but were painted as 'officers doing their best in stressful situations'.

The final episode has an interview with Michael Brown, the head of FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) at the time. It has to be heard to be believed. He basically says that in disasters people can't expect the government to help them. I wish I was exaggerating but I'm not.

The podcast is a few months old but it feels incredibly timely and I can't recommend it enough.
Sounds like it's covering the same grounds as Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke. Bears repeating mind.
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Fishnut
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Re: Floodlines - Hurricane Katrina and the Disaster in New Orleans

Post by Fishnut » Thu Jun 18, 2020 5:23 pm

JQH wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 5:20 pm
Sounds like it's covering the same grounds as Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke. Bears repeating mind.
Yes, and with an extra 10+ years of hindsight so you really see the long-term impacts of the disaster.

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Re: Floodlines - Hurricane Katrina and the Disaster in New Orleans

Post by Martin_B » Fri Jun 19, 2020 1:37 am

It was a while ago, but in the aftermath of Katrina I attended a disaster preparedness conference with talks from people who had been affected by Katrina.

One of the things that hit me was that despite New Orleans being where Katrina hit landfall and getting pretty badly damaged, when the hurricane moved inland and dumped a massive quantity of water on the Mississippi drainage basin, the main disaster relief location for people who's property had been damaged and wasn't habitable from all across Louisiana, southern Mississippi and southern Alabama was New Orleans.

New Orleans had always been the planned (FEMA?) disaster relief location, and no-one could change it. Despite the fact that the meteorologists were warning that the rainfall from Katrina would hit New Orleans hard and cause flooding, people from well outside the potential flooding area were being bussed into New Orleans because it was the designated location for them to go to.
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Re: Floodlines - Hurricane Katrina and the Disaster in New Orleans

Post by lpm » Tue Oct 06, 2020 3:20 pm

Hurricane Delta.

Arriving in New Orleans on Friday, per forecasts.
I'll miss him after he's fled to Riyadh

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