Commemorating the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the Newseum presented a special evening program Aug. 19, 2015, looking back at the devastating effects of the storm and examining how New Orleans and the Mississippi coast have recovered over the past decade. Historian Douglas Brinkley, author of “The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast”; Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, who provided extensive coverage from New Orleans and reported on recovery efforts from Mississippi; and former New Orleans mayor Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, shared their unique perspectives and experiences in New Orleans during and after the devastating hurricane tore through the city.
Brinkley, who interviewed residents all along the Gulf Coast after Katrina, began the program with a sobering reminder. “Katrina is history, but people on the Gulf Coast are still living it,” he said. Brinkley noted that people are rebuilding on the same land that the hurricane ruined, because in many cases, that’s where their families have lived for generations. “We’re not leaving,” he heard from many Mississippians.
“I’ve covered a lot of tragedies,” Smith noted, but Katrina “broke all the molds.” His passionate reporting of the storm’s aftermath and the lack of government response and aid to New Orleans — selections of which can be viewed in the Newseum’s Bloomberg Internet, TV and Radio Gallery — turned heads at the time and resonates still. “I’d never been in a position where I’d had to scream like that,” he told the Newseum audience.
Morial called Katrina “the perfect storm of error,” citing decisions that either were wrong or were never made, delaying and impeding rescue and evacuation efforts in New Orleans. “I hope in this 10th year after Katrina, people can have candid conversations to make sure this can never happen again,” he said.