Principal photography for Storm Surge began in July 2010. Since then, we have traveled over 35,000 miles and interviewed 100+ people to research our subject. Here are a few of the places we’ve visited and the motivations driving the storyline.
On April 27, 2011, 211 individual tornadoes swept through the Southeastern U.S. in one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in 40 years. The City of Tuscaloosa, home to the University of Alabama, took the worst hit, as a twister one mile wide with wind speeds over 200 miles per hour tore through town injuring more than 1,000 and killing 65. Thousands of businesses, homes, mobile homes, and other structures were damaged or destroyed. If sports is an elixir for tragedy, then the University’s athletic program is the poster child, as the players and coaches went on to honor the fallen and the community by winning four national championships during the 2011-2012 season.
On Sunday, May 22, 2011, at 5:41pm, a multiple vortex EF5 tornado stuck the city of Joplin, MO, leaving a 13-mile long pathway of destruction in its wake. One-third of the city was flattened, over 8,000 structures destroyed, and 161 of its citizens were killed. Despite this tragedy, Joplin is recovering and rebuilding at an impressive pace.
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Hurricane Katrina was an extraordinary act of nature that spawned a human tragedy. It was the most destructive natural disaster in American history, laying waste to 90,000 square miles of land, an area the size of the United Kingdom. Along the Mississippi Coast, a 25-foot storm surge obliterated 20 coastal communities and left thousands destitute. Tens of thousands suffered without basic essentials for over a week and more than 1,600 people died. The results were tragic loss of life and human suffering on a massive scale, and an undermining of confidence in our governments’ ability to plan, prepare for, and respond to national catastrophes.
Central Gulf Coast
On April 20, 2010, 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana the BP Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded killing 11 people, countless numbers of birds, fish and marine life, and dumped an estimated 250 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. As BP struggled to stem the leak, oil washed along hundreds of miles of shoreline from the fragile wetlands of Louisiana to the white sand beaches of Florida. “The Spill,” as the locals say, is considered the worst environmental disaster in US history. It may take generations to “Make This Right.”
On August 27, 2012, on the 7th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Isaac slow walked through the Central Gulf Coast. Jean Lafitte, Louisiana, a small fishing village (pop. 1,904) located at the southern end of Louisiana Highway 45 along Bayou Barataria was one of the communities most severely damaged by wind, rain and tidal surge. “It’s the 8th major weather-related disaster to hit my town in the last 7 years,” according to Mayor Tim Kerner. Jean Lafitte serves as the main storyline for Storm Surge, and is the thread that ties the film together into three centralized themes – Survival, Resiliency and Recovery.