Today marks the seven year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. My eyes, as they once were, are glued to the Weather Channel, waiting to see what damage Isaac will bring. As it happens, The Wrong Complexion for Protection, Robert Bullard’s book on how government response to disaster endangers vulnerable communities, is in my peripheral vision. A hopeful New Orleanian-at-heart, I’d like to believe America has learned from Katrina. But have we?
As a Tulane grad and Katrina “survivor,” I have no horror storm stories of my own to share. One of the lucky ones, I charged my newly acquired credit card with a train ride to Memphis—my first experience of both—and spent the long hours sneaking mini-bottles of wine from the dining car, mingling with Loyola undergrads (a chance opportunity), and watching the sun go down over the flatlands of America. (To this day, I still consider train rides the pinnacle of luxury.)
Most likely, whether or not you’ve seen When the Levees Broke, Treme, or read Zeitoun, you know the stories of Katrina. Today, especially, many people are remembering these stories—using social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to engage in a national conversation about the legacy of Katrina, and express support for the city and its residents as New Orleans “hunkers down” for another storm. (For a snapshot, see this awesome collection of tweets, from Mashable. Or, #RememberKatrina.)
In light of this widespread share-and-tell and the anniversary of Katrina, we, at NYU Press, would like to share a chapter on New Orleans from The Wrong Complexion for Protection. And to those in areas affected by Hurricane Isaac, we wish you safety!