|In the city of New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina did only minimal damage. The first news coming out of the city, by way of WWL 8.70, the lone radio station still broadcasting, was that it looked as if the city had once again "dodged the big one.' And, in point of fact, it had. But, then, on the morning of August 29th, the unthinkable happened, the ultimate horror of every citizen protected by a levee system. Floodwalls on five U. S. Army Corps of Engineers' levees collapsed: the MS River Gulf Outlet, the IntraCoastal waterway, the Industrial Canal, the London Avenue Canal (it, in turn, causing the Orleans Canal levee to overtop), and the 17th Street Canal...creating the greatest engineering failure in the history of America. For my native city, nothing would ever be the same.|
|A clock on the mantel of a home in Lakeview shows the time when the floodwalls of the 17th Street Canal collapsed and inundated the neighborhood and much of the city with as much as 11 feet of water.|
Dramatic Aerial Views: A City Underwater
"When can we go back to America?"
Local Landmarks: Places You May Know
Utter Devastation: Lakeview
The 17th Street Canal Breach from the Air
A Final Look
|The images in this retrospective were collected in the months right after the levee failures in New Orleans. In those days, I was so overwhelmed with grief at what had happened to the city, I couldn't imagine that there would ever be a time when I could work with them long enough to create webpages. But now, time has allowed me to reach a point where I have been able to do that, although I've come to accept that a part of that grief will always be with me.
When I thought I was saving them just as a record for my own family's future generations, my intention was to save photos that had personal meaning to my family (our former neighborhood of Lakeview, for example) or images that would convey--each in their own way--the story of the people of the city of New Orleans, whose lives were forever and inexorably altered on Monday morning, August 29, 2005...
. . . when time stood still.
|I am proud of New Orleans.
Eighty per cent of the city of New Orleans lay underwater after the collapse of the floodwalls of the levees. Entire neighborhoods were decimated, including Gentilly, New Orleans East, the Upper and Lower Ninth Ward, Bywater, Treme, Broadmoor, Mid-City, City Park, Carrollton and many others. I didn't concentrate on all of the affected neighborhoods when I collected these images for the reasons outlined in my introduction above. But all of these neighborhoods were harmed irrevocably and their residents affected beyond imagining. My heart goes out to all of them as they continue to re-build their lives, homes and businesses. Very few people outside of what I've come to refer to as "the zone" will ever know the true story of what has happened to the city of New Orleans since the floodwalls failed. And, regrettably, few people will ever know the inspiring stories of her residents. They have made and continue to make me proud to claim New Orleans as my native city. I hope the photographs in this retrospective will reveal a small part of their remarkable story.
The sources of these photographs: I scanned photos from newspapers and magazines; I saved photos from websites; I took hundreds of photos myself; I received hundreds of photos from friends via e-mail and snail mail. I regret that I didn't keep track of the credits because, at the time, I didn't intend to use the images publicly. I've tracked down as many original sources as I could and asked and received permission to use the images, or, if permission was not granted, I've deleted those images from the site. If I find that any of the remaining photos are copyrighted, I'll seek permission to use them or remove them.
This retrospective was assembled in July, 2007 by Nancy Brister
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I am indebted to Kevin M. Himel for allowing me to share several of his photographs on
these pages. Mr. Himel was a volunteer with the New Orleans Police Department in the
days immediately after the levee failures and he was in a unique position to capture many
dramatic images of the city while it was still under water. Nancy
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Old New Orleans - Home
The Past Whispers - Home
Hold the Corps of Engineers Accountable for the devastation of New Orleans
Visit LEVEES.ORG for information.