chapter  4
Making sense of disaster: the cultural studies of disaster
Pages 15

We have a sense of disasters long before we have an actual sensation of them. In the last days of August 2005, before Hurricane Katrina hit the coast of Louisiana, newspapers and news networks visualized the possible path of the hurricane through the Gulf of Mexico with computer simulations and speculated on the damage that would be caused by the hit. In the direct aftermath of the hurricane’s landfall on 29 August, when aid was painfully slow to arrive, unfounded media reports of looting and killing in the flooded streets of New Orleans caused George W. Bush to mobilize the National Guard, which further delayed relief operations. In the ten years that went by after the destruction of New Orleans, news stories, political speeches, insurance cases, Katrina tourism, novels like Dave Egger’s Zeitoun (2009), movies such as Bench Zeitlin’s Hushpuppy (2012), TV documentaries like Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke (2006) and cartoons like Josh Neufeld’s A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge (2007-8) have continued to make sense of the events in August 2005. The legacy of the most lethal storm to hit the US since 1928 equally lives on through monuments such as the Katrina Memorial Park (2008), and music such as Mos Def ’s Dollar Day (Katrina Klap).