Katrina survivors talk to New York. (Thanks, y'all.)
I'm going to go ahead and call Chandra R. Thompson's reporting on her old New Orleans neighborhood some of the most moving work I've ever seen on the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Thompson grew up in and around Pontchartrain Park, a black community on the lake where neighbors and relatives built a safe place in a world that was often unfriendly.
The flood waters wrecked Pontchartrain Park. "Everybody lost everything, and I do mean everything," Thompson says.
The second part of her ongoing series is after the jump. Watch for new installments on our sister site, The Grio.
Rachel Maddow found the upside-down smile of infrastructure in New Orleans today.
Below, a sign that homeowners are still mucking out from Hurricane Katrina.
After the jump, a show preview.
Rachel taped a segment today about a story involving the corner of Race and Religious streets. See if you spot this shot in the show tonight.
Diane Scott writes from Kenner:
Hurricane Katrina flooded my family home. My parents and disabled sister escaped the storm to my sister's house in Houston. Sadly many people, who did not have their own transportation, stayed behind.
My little sister, who has Down syndrome, draws pictures that she has always saved for me because I encouraged her. I think her drawings are creative, and cartoon like. Because she can create a character that is consistent. I always thought a cartoon series could be made of her illustrations. When we learned my parents' home was flooded, I asked her to draw a picture. She sent it to me in the mail from Houston, where they stayed until the flooding receded enough to allow people to return to the New Orleans area. She called her picture Rainbow Houses. I made a poster out of it, and started raising funds from the proceeds, that I hoped would go to survivors.
We ended creating a brand new non-profit organization called Om Press Incorporated. In fact, an unprecedented number of non-profits were created in New Orleans after the storm. We raised money for Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and the New Orleans Association of Retarded Children.
In 2006 I returned home, to help my family rebuild. While there my little sister and I worked on a children's book about Hurricane Katrina, that Om Press published. She drew all the illustrations from inside her Fema trailer. TRASH GIRL AND TRASH DOG, KLEAN UP KATRINA. It makes a hero of every kid, just for helping clean up. Katrina produced an unprecedented amount of garbage, one year later, in 2006; it was 10 million tons and counting. The book also gives good Hurricane preparation advice.
In 2007 Om Press gave out care packages to homeless Katrina refugees in Baton Rouge. My mother died in 2007 in our family home, two days after the last of her new furniture arrived to replace what was destroyed by Katrina. She had matching curtains, and other linens to put up, but never finished. I believe Katrina devastated my mother, and the stress killed her. She really never recovered.
Katrina changed our lives in so many ways, but what you learn, is that the only way to really lose, is to completely give up. Sadly, I think that is what happened to my mother. But, Om Press Inc. is a beacon of hope. There was a movement of like minded people in the city, committed to rebuilding. You kind of had a choice after Katrina, you either had to give in, or get up!
The Saints became the embodiment of that spirit when they started winning in 2006. Om Press will be auctioning three signed copies of the book: COMING BACK STRONGER, by Saints Quarterback, Drew Brees Starting Sunday, August 29, 2010. The auction will end a week later. 100% of proceeds will go to a variety of non-profits: Habitat for Humanity New Orleans projects, Humane Society of Louisiana (aiding both Katrina, and oil spill animal victims), and the New Orleans Association of Retarded Citizens.