Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Here We Go Again

That wasn't the title I had in mind for this post.  When I got the digital galleys of the books below, I imagined a post with some "then" and "now" photos (you can see some "then" here, here, here, here, here  and here) however, I spent this weekend with my sick father (prayers for him appreciated) and though I got off work early today due to the approach of Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaac, I figured taking pictures in strange neighborhoods would be likely to get me arrested today.  Yes, seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina hit, we in New Orleans are getting ready for Isaac, which, while it does not appear to be another Katrina, has shut the town down for the next few days.

So what about Katrina books?  Well I read two I want to share with you.

About the Book:
As floodwaters drained in the weeks following Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans residents came to a difficult realization. Their city was about to undertake the largest disaster recovery in American history, yet they faced a profound leadership vacuum: members of every tier of government, from the municipal to the federal level, had fallen down on the job. We Shall Not Be Moved tells the absorbing story of the community leaders who stepped into this void to rebuild the city they loved. 

From a Vietnamese Catholic priest who immediately knows when two of his six thousand parishioners go missing to a single mother from the Lower Ninth Ward who instructs the likes of Jimmy Carter and Brad Pitt, these intrepid local organizers show that a city’s fate rests on the backs of its citizens. On their watch, New Orleans neighborhoods become small governments. These leaders organize their neighbors to ward off demolition threats, write comprehensive recovery plans, found community schools, open volunteer centers, raise funds to rebuild fire stations and libraries, and convince tens of thousands of skeptical residents to return home. Focusing on recovery efforts in five New Orleans neighborhoods—Broadmoor, Hollygrove, Lakeview, the Lower Ninth Ward, and Village de l’Est—Tom Wooten presents vivid narratives through the eyes and voices of residents rebuilding their homes, telling a story of resilience as entertaining as it is instructive. 

The unprecedented community mobilization underway in New Orleans is a silver lining of Hurricane Katrina’s legacy. By shedding light on this rebirth, We Shall Not Be Moved shows how residents, remarkably, turned a profound national failure into a story of hope.

My Comments:
I liked We Shall Not Be Moved.  Of course, as a New Orleans resident I recognized many of the places described.  I remember the grandiose plans put forth by the government commissions and I remember thinking they'd never fly--and I was right.  This is a book about what actually happened, about the people who were leaders, not politicians and about how neighborhoods came back.  I found it highly readable and not very political.  It didn't whine about how things should have been but told how things were.  Grade:  B+

About the Book:
After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans became ground zero for the reinvention of the American city, with urban planners, movie stars, anarchists, and politicians all advancing their competing visions of recovery. In this wash of reform, residents and volunteers from across the country struggled to build the foundations of a new New Orleans.For over five years, author Daniel Wolff has documented an amazing cross section of the city in upheaval: a born-again preacher with a ministry of ex-addicts, a former Black Panther organizing for a new cause, a single mother, "broke as a joke" in a FEMA trailer. The Fight for Home chronicles their battle to survive not just the floods, but the corruption that continues and the base-level emergency of poverty and neglect.From ruin to limbo to triumphant return, Wolff offers an intimate look at the lives of everyday American heroes. A s these lives play out against the ruined local landscape and an emerging national recession, The Fight for Home becomes a story of resilience and hope.

My Comments:
I found this book to be liberal whining.  Those horrible rich folks live where it is high, the poor live where it floods and folks who didn't have insurance were worse off than folks who did.  I didn't finish it.  


  1. I hope that you and your family are safe and sound, Ruth. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I would like to read the book about New Orleans and Katrina that you liked.

  2. The first book sounds like a nice model for the New Evangelism: instead of waiting around for the hierarchy to fix things, lay Catholics can get busy through their own initiative.

  3. My family's from Houma, also lived in River Ridge and Napoleon St. in the city. This reminds me, last Christmas we drove in from South Carolina. Had a good long look at Nola East: wow. Nature does what she will; and we're left with the pieces, whether they can be picked up or not.


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