STORM SURGE is a visual narrative that follows the lives of five unsung heroes as they work to rebuild their livelihoods and communities in the wake of historic national disasters.
Cherri Foytlin is one of the main characters we profile in the film. Listen to her candid observations on what it’s like to live in the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina, Gustav, and Ivan, and the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Catastrophe.
Hurricane Katrina was a natural disaster that some have described as biblical in scale and unprecedented as a human tragedy.
“The Storm,” as the locals call 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.
Before The Storm
As the sheer size of Hurricane Katrina became clear, the National Weather Service’s New Orleans/Baton Rouge office issued an ominously worded emergency alert predicting that many areas throughout the Gulf Coast would be “uninhabitable for weeks” after “devastating damage” caused by Katrina.
Contraflow lane reversal, voluntary, and mandatory evacuations were issued for coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Approximately 1.2 million residents of the Gulf Coast heeded the evacuation orders, after hearing the following cryptic message, and fled their homes.
During The Storm
After making a brief initial landfall over Southeastern Louisiana, Hurricane Katrina made its final landfall near Louisiana/Mississippi state line, passing over the cities of Bay St. Louis and Waveland, Mississippi.
The Storm featured winds in excess of 120 mph and churned up a powerful 27-foot storm surge, which penetrated 6 miles inland, and in some areas up to 12 miles, along bays and rivers; killing close to 300 people and causing billions of dollars in damage to bridges, barges, boats, piers, houses and cars. Thousands were left homeless, destitute, and entombed in mud.
Extreme weather photographers Mike Tice and Jim Reed captured harrowing video footage as the storm surge slammed in Gulfport, Mississippi and ripped through their hotel.
After The Storm
While the coastal Mississippi communities of Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, D’Iberville, Gulfport, Pass Christian, and Waveland Mississippi where completely washed off the map because of the massive storm surge, New Orleans was overwhelmed by flooding.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff described the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as “probably the worst catastrophe, or set of catastrophes,” in the country’s history, referring to the hurricane itself plus the flooding of New Orleans.
Katrina’s storm surge caused 53 different levee breaches in greater New Orleans, submerging eighty percent of the city. The levee breaches and the subsequent flooding were responsible for killing over 700 people.
Survivors and evacuees reported seeing dead bodies lying in city streets and floating in flooded sections of the city well into October. The advanced state of decomposition of many corpses hindered efforts by coroners to identify many of the dead.
In the days following Katrina, residents in New Orleans who “rode out the storm,” resorted to looting stores in search of food, water, and medical supplies. While others took advantage of the situation to loot non-essential items like televisions and tennis shoes.
All told, more than 1,833 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.
Released in December 2012, seven years after the most expensive disaster in American history, this 95-minute documentary film gives you the round-the-clock news coverage and a comprehensive look behind the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, human error, false media reports, political corruption, government bureaucracy, and a substandard physical infrastructure.
Using comprehensive analysis of events, hours of government audio tapes, and personal interviews, National Geographic takes viewers into the eye of Katrina to uncover the decisions and circumstances that determined the fate of the Gulf residents.
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Isaac, we had the great fortune of being introduced to and spending time with Kindra Arensen, a mother, wife to a commercial fisherman, and the so-called Erin Brockovick of Southern Louisiana.
A Thomas Jefferson Community Leadership Award winner for her work advocating on behalf of thousands of commercial fishermen who lost their livelihoods, as well as their health in the aftermath of the BP Oil Spill, Kindra is a straight up rock star, with universally recognized YouTube videos capturing her frank, angry and emotional accounts of her husband and other fishermen getting sick during cleanup.
In 2010, Australian 60 Minutesfeatured her in a piece on the after effects of the oil spill, suggesting, “This is going to affect the entire world.” With more than 300 interviews behind her, she’s still fighting both public and media perception of the disaster. With a strong eye focused two the media. “It’s a huge picture, and a picture’s worth 1,000 words. If it’s not painted correctly, that’s one of the problems I have with the media,” she said.
In addition to the technological disaster caused by BP, Kindra has experienced her fair share of natural disasters, namely Hurricanes Dennis, Gustav, Isaac, Ivan, Katrina, Lili, Rita, and Tropical Storm Lee. She recently shared some insights on how best to cope in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
In her own words:
WOW Sandy slammed the east coast, the photos look like what we walked upon 7 years ago after Katrina. Most of the folks that have been hit by this storm may have never dealt with something of this magnitude.
So I will offer the following.
Take a deep breath.
Call or go online & register with FEMA.
Hold on to as much cash as possible.
You may be thinking omg how will I pay my bills, when you have some time call all of the companies that you have loans with and ask that they differ your payments, the last thing you need is collection calls.
Remove all auto pays from your accounts.
Within the first week officials will approve food stamps, registering online makes the process a little faster. I know some will not want to access fs, but right now everything will help.
File claims with your home owners, flood insurance, and car insurance & on anything that has been hit.
Register for email updates with your local government.
Some churches will help with many things. After Katrina a church in Fla provided a home for our family for 6 months, I don’t know what we would have done without the assistance of the churches.
Remember everyone will be under a tremendous amount of stress.
So loved ones may be snappy. This will put a strain on many relationships. Love each other trough the madness, you will be stronger for it.
If you have children, try not to watch storm coverage while they are present.
I wish someone would have told me the above when we were hit by Katrina. This situation will stay with those hit for the rest of their life, but life does go on. I hope this helps some.
Last night we watched a screening of Academy Award®-winning director Jonathan Demme’s documentary film, I’m Carolyn Parker: The Good, the Mad, and the Beautiful. The film profiles Carolyn Parker, a fearless civil rights activist and resident of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans, and her five-year crusade to rebuild her beloved house, her church, her community — and her life — after Hurricane Katrina. Her courage and resiliency are inspirational.
Contrary to the title, Storm Surge is a not a disaster movie, but rather a film that celebrates the hope, optimism, and self-determination needed to build disaster resilient communities in advance of catastrophic shifts in ecosystems and the related impacts to our weather and our communities.
From super tornadoes, droughts, floods and fires, to the lingering impacts of hurricanes and the BP oil spill, millions of Americans now find themselves living in the cross hairs of a looming planetary emergency – global climate change.
Storm Surge is a film that’s more than what you see on the screen. It’s a movement, an educational campaign, an attempt to raise the level of climate consciousness with a younger generation.
Targeting middle and high school youth, Storm Surge‘s educational campaign will include study guides, bonus features, in-depth interviews, community discussions, town hall meetings, and a traveling lecture series – featuringStacy Noland and other leaders working to help communities adapt to climate change and become more disaster resilient.
The major broadcasting networks consider shifting resources from GOP Convention in Tampa to New Orleans in advance of Hurricane Isaac’s landfall sometime late Tuesday evening or early Wednesday morning, which is ironically the 7th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Isaac could take direct aim at New Orleans, which is still struggling to fully recover from Katrina which swept across the city on August 29, 2005, killing more than 1,800 people and causing billions of dollars of damage along the coast.
“That brings a high level of anxiety to the people of New Orleans,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu told a news conference. “I want to tell everybody now that I believe that we will be OK,” he added.
At 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT) on Monday, Isaac was centered 255 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River with top sustained winds of 70 mph and swirling northwest at 12 mph.
To date, Hurricane Isaac has killed at least 20 people and caused significant flooding and damage in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.