I wouldn't call it delicious irony, but it's pretty ironic that we're bracing for a hurricane to hit the East Coast and I've just finished Douglas Brinkley's The Great Deluge, a recounting of the horrors following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (today being just a few days shy of the six year anniversary of the event). Visiting New Orleans just this past month prompted my interest in the subject, where swaths of still-unoccupied or still-damaged row houses dominate the landscape in sections of the Treme, Marigny, and other neighborhoods.
Covering a week-long period that involves days before and after the Hurricane's landfall, Brinkley documents the ineptitude of government officials and inability of government institutions to take charge that led to the "federally-induced disaster" as locals have taken to describing it. The void of responsibility was filled by the man-on-the-street who took it upon themselves to help out those in need, with a myriad of examples provided by Brinkley. Told in a style that deftly balances finger-pointing with a recounting of compassionate deeds, Brinkley has written an immensely important contribution to the literature of natural and government-induced disasters.
image courtesy Flickr user News Muse