Saturday, August 12, 2006

Gulf residents persevere a year after hurricanes hit

Life after Katrina's devastation

They said she was too frail. That the mold growing on the warped walls of her flooded house would make her ill. That she shouldn't bother since her mottled, mud-filled home would likely be bulldozed anyway.

But Willie Lee Barnes, who recently turned 94, didn't listen.

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In New Orleans, the infrastructure remains damaged. Nearly 60 percent of homes and business are still not receiving electricity or heating gas. Only three out of nine New Orleans hospitals have reopened. Only 56 of 128 public schools will enroll students this fall.

The city itself still has no master plan.

Those attempting to rebuild their homes have yet to be told how high they will have to raise them. And it's still unclear if the city's patched levees will hold back future floods.

Still, even in the worst-hit neighborhoods, where homes were ripped from their foundations and spit into the street, and where mattresses still lie impaled in the branches of trees, the rebirth is taking place.

While Barnes has chosen to deal with Katrina one way, other Gulf residents have found alternative solutions to cope. Images of the hurricane aftermath are alive on the Internet.

Hundreds of Katrina-themed videos are hosted by YouTube and other video sites, ranging from montages of storm-damaged streets days after the hurricane to more recently created works that show that life is still far from normal.

For some, the movie projects are driven by a desire to share stories that aren't covered by traditional media. Creating and sharing the videos help them find closure.

Sites like, and make it easy for users to watch and share original videos at no charge. Though Katrina-related content is available on other sites, none comes close to the more than 950 movies available on YouTube.

It's no surprise that many families who lived through the trauma of the hurricanes are experiencing flashbacks. Painful memories are triggered. Dr. Deborah Serani offers some great tips on how to cope with trauma and flashbacks.

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Rose said...

Spike Lee has a documentary about Katrina scheduled this month on BET. I do want to see it. You are right, Dr. Seb has some great tips for dealing with flashbacks.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

I love how Mrs. Barnes said she was like "bad grass". Amazing what she was able to do.

I just did an interview with "Psychology Today" on the Katrina Anniversary effect. I'll let you know when it is published and/or posted on their website.

I am so excited to learn that Spike Lee did a Documentary on Katrina. I'll be looking for that on BET. Thanks Rose for the heads up about that one.

Deb S. said...

Rose: Thanks for the info! I'll be looking for the documentary.

Dr. Deb: By all means, please let me know when your interview is published/posted.