Remembering Katrina with film, activists
October 26, 2009 —
The University played a documentary at the Alan Ott Auditorium last Monday in remembrance of Hurricane Katrina.
Titled “Trouble the Water,” the award-winning film follows the story of one couple as they endure the storm that destroyed New Orleans in 2005 and attempt to improve their lives and the lives of others in the aftermath. Following the film, professors Averetta Lewis and Burk Foster held a panel on Katrina victims and recovery efforts in Louisiana.
With roughly 100 individuals in attendance, Foster said he was glad to know that so people were still interested in the aftermath of Katrina. “An urban disaster of this type affects the lives of hundreds of thousands of people,” Foster said. “In this case, lots of people that I knew in New Orleans suffered partial or complete damage to their homes.”
“Trouble the Water” was released in 2008 and revolves around Kimberly and Scott Roberts, who took camcorder footage in New Orleans during the hurricane. Since its release, the documentary has received numerous awards and nominations, including the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
To Foster, the film is powerful. “[It] puts us in the place of one young couple in the poorest part of the city,” he said, “and lets us see close up how the flood affected them. It is a very personal story that should make us care about how government deals with its people after disaster occurs.”
The presentation made one thing clear: even four years later, New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast is still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Katrina.
For those who didn’t attend the presentation and want to learn more, Foster said to take the time to learn more. “Take a look at [Trouble the Water], or at Spike Lee’s “When the Levees Broke,” or read one or two of the good books about Katrina and its aftermath in New Orleans. I recommend Michael Eric Dyson’s ‘Come Hell or High Water,’ and Dan Baum’s ‘Nine Lives.’”
He also encouraged people to get past their prejudices and preconceptions about Louisiana and New Orleans and to look beyond the politics.
“Try to comprehend how public policy in responding to disasters affects ordinary people,” he said.
Foster also encourages students do their own research to learn more about the recovery efforts or go to New Orleans and other sites on the Gulf Coast and see what is happening.
“It is a beautiful old city that has a vital place in American history and culture.”