Left to Chance
Hurricane Katrina and the Story of Two New Orleans Neighborhoods
180 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.60 in
Sales Date: September 1, 2015
How do survivors recover from the worst urban flood in American history, a disaster that destroyed nearly the entire physical landscape of a city, as well as the mental and emotional maps that people use to navigate their everyday lives? This question has haunted the survivors of Hurricane Katrina and informed the response to the subsequent flooding of New Orleans across many years.
Left to Chance takes us into two African American neighborhoods—working-class Hollygrove and middle-class Pontchartrain Park—to learn how their residents have experienced “Miss Katrina” and the long road back to normal life. The authors spent several years gathering firsthand accounts of the flooding, the rushed evacuations that turned into weeks- and months-long exile, and the often confusing and exhausting process of rebuilding damaged homes in a city whose local government had all but failed. As the residents’ stories make vividly clear, government and social science concepts such as “disaster management,” “restoring normality,” and “recovery” have little meaning for people whose worlds were washed away in the flood. For the neighbors in Hollygrove and Pontchartrain Park, life in the aftermath of Katrina has been a passage from all that was familiar and routine to an ominous world filled with raw existential uncertainty. Recovery and rebuilding become processes imbued with mysteries, accidental encounters, and hasty adaptations, while victories and defeats are left to chance.
"This book is important, beautifully written, deeply philosophical, and literary. Tragedy and daring and unforgiving social policies are transmitted through the narratives and speak to the reader as if we were there, mulling over unforgivable dilemmas close up and intimately. And yet, the reader is also pulled back through the hand of the narrative to grasp the larger picture."~Carol B. Stack, Professor Emeritus, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley, and author of Call to Home: African Americans Reclaim the Rural South and All Our Kin: Strategies for Survival in a Black Community
~Elijah Anderson, from the foreword
"A compelling account of people working against the odds to make sense of and manage the protracted and bewildering mess that was, and in many ways still is, Hurricane Katrina."
- Foreword by Elijah Anderson
- Introduction: Water, Conversations, and Race
- Part I: Navigating Contingency in Two Historic Neighborhoods
- Chapter 1. "Katrina Takes Aim"
- Chapter 2. Geographies of Class and Color
- Part II: From Evacuees to Exiles
- Chapter 3. Life on the Road
- Chapter 4. From the Road to Exile
- Part III: Traversing and Rebuilding
- Chapter 5. It's Available, but Is It Accessible?
- Chapter 6. Rebuilding in a Broken City
- Chapter 7. "The Katrina Effect"
- Epilogue: Making a Space for Chance