Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
First Published: April 4th, 2015
Publisher: HMH BFYR
Recommended Age: 10+
Genres & Themes: Graphic Novel, Nonfiction, Environment, Middle Grade, History
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina’s monstrous winds and surging water overwhelmed the protective levees around low-lying New Orleans, Louisiana. Eighty percent of the city flooded, in some places under twenty feet of water. Property damages across the Gulf Coast topped $100 billion. One thousand eight hundred and thirty-three people lost their lives. The tale of this historic storm and the drowning of an American city is one of selflessness, heroism, and courage—and also of incompetence, racism, and criminality.
I wanted desperately to read this book because, in my Anthropology class, we talked about the way Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans and how catastrophic the impacts were, especially for Black communities, since many of them lived below sea level.
However, we only talked about it for one class, read one article and watched one short film, so I felt like I still had a lot to learn, particularly about the ways in which Hurricane Katrina affected people on the emotional level. Facts are great, explanations are better, but emotions are important also.
In this graphic novel, the author takes us back to the beginning, in order for us to understand the end. What I mean is that he starts by telling us how Hurricane Katrina was formed and grew, before dwelling on its negative impacts on both the populations and environment.
I was surprised to learn that many people refused to be rescued because their pets couldn’t come with them. Therefore, if they wanted to leave the flood, they had to give up their pets that would certainly die on their own. I understood their reasoning. Still, woah.
Also, I had no idea the water was so… hellish. You’d think water from the ocean would be cleaner, and it actually was, but the problem is this water eventually got mixed with chemicals, paint, dead bodies and other substances… making it toxic. And let’s not forget what came along with the ocean: sharks, snakes, and other deadly creatures. Oh god, just thinking about it makes me terrified.
A book you should read. I urge you to.
Follow me on: