Katrina: After the Flood

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina tore through the South, breaking the levees built to protect New Orleans, and leaving 80% of the city underwater. In Katrina: After the Flood, Gary Rivlin (Broke, USA) writes a riveting account of the disastrous results of the storm, starting from the preliminary evacuations to the present day. He investigates the key players in city government who were involved in the clean-up process, and interviews ordinary people whose homes and businesses were destroyed by the flooding, requiring them to relocate to other cities and find new jobs.

Rivlin describes in great detail the destruction Katrina left behind: experts figured that 250 billion gallons of water covered the city and "created an estimated 50 million cubic yards of storm-related debris"; one-quarter of New Orleans's police cars, 200 city transit buses, more than half its fire engines and a significant number of ambulances were destroyed, all of which thwarted rescue efforts. Rivlin shows that efforts to aid those desperate for help were hindered by racial prejudices in the region, with white politicians giving little thought to the black communities destroyed by Katrina. He skillfully blends personal comments with investigative journalism, presenting readers with a well-rounded view of the social, economic and emotional impact the storm had on hundreds of thousands, in the first days after the hurricane and over the ensuing decade. In the end, Rivlin advocates for radically different practices to be instituted long before a new storm arrives. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

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