The Great Deluge

The Great Deluge

4.0 29
by Douglas Brinkley
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

In the span of five violent hours on August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed major Gulf Coast cities and flattened 150 miles of coastline. But it was only the first stage of a shocking triple tragedy. On the heels of one of the three strongest hurricanes ever to make landfall in the United States came the storm-surge flooding, which submerged a half-million

See more details below

Overview

In the span of five violent hours on August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed major Gulf Coast cities and flattened 150 miles of coastline. But it was only the first stage of a shocking triple tragedy. On the heels of one of the three strongest hurricanes ever to make landfall in the United States came the storm-surge flooding, which submerged a half-million homes—followed by the human tragedy of government mismanagement, which proved as cruel as the natural disaster itself.

In The Great Deluge, bestselling author Douglas Brinkley finds the true heroes of this unparalleled catastrophe, and lets the survivors tell their own stories, masterly allowing them to record the nightmare that was Katrina.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Historian Brinkley (Tour of Duty, etc.) opens his detailed examination of the awful events that took place on the Gulf Coast late last summer by describing how a New Orleans animal shelter began evacuating its charges at the first notice of the impending storm. The Louisiana SPCA, Brinkley none too coyly points out, was better prepared for Katrina than the city of New Orleans. It's groups like the SPCA, as well as compassionate citizens who used their own resources to help others, whom Brinkley hails as heroes in his heavy, powerful account-and, unsurprisingly, authorities like Mayor Ray Nagin, Gov. Kathleen Blanco and former FEMA director Michael C. Brown whom he lambastes most fiercely. The book covers August 27 through September 3, 2005, and uses multiple narrative threads, an effect that is disorienting but appropriate for a book chronicling the helter-skelter environment of much of New Orleans once the storm had passed, the levees had been breached, and the city was awash in "toxic gumbo." Naturally outraged at the damage wrought by the storm and worsened by the ill-prepared authorities, Brinkley, a New Orleans resident, is generally levelheaded, even when reporting on Brown's shallow e-mails to friends while "the trapped were dying" or recounting heretofore unreported atrocities, such as looters defecating on property as a mark of empowerment. Photos. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Brinkley is a historian, not a journalist used to word counts, which may explain how he managed to take 624 pages to cover the shortest chronology (August 27 through September 3, 2005) of these narratives. For historical and scientific context, readers should turn to McQuaid and Schleifstein, but Brinkley's impressive accumulation of details within the eye of the disaster results in a chronicle that has undeniable power, mitigated somewhat by the intrusion of cliches and his own biases. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061744730
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
768
Sales rank:
238,423
File size:
6 MB

Read an Excerpt

The Great Deluge

Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast
By Douglas Brinkley

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Douglas Brinkley
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0061124230

Chapter One Ignoring the Inevitable

More than once, a society has been seen to give way before the wind which is let loose upon mankind; history is full of the shipwrecks of nations and empires; manners, customs, laws, religions -- and some fine day that unknown force, the hurricane, passes by and bears them all away.

-- Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

No wind was blowing when forty-four-year-old Laura Maloney arrived at the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (LSPCA) on Japonica Street in New Orleans's Ninth Ward. With the exception of some storefront windows plywooded-up and Mandich's Restaurant, which was closed, August 27 was, by and large, a fairly normal Saturday morning. In a building across the street from the Industrial Canal, Maloney's LSPCA staff had lots of work to do. Hurricane Katrina -- a possible Category 5 storm -- was headed toward New Orleans and the shelter had a total population of 263 stray pets, ranging from boxers to Heinz 57 mutts and Siamese cats. All of them had to be evacuated. "Each animal got its own digital picture shots," Maloney recalled. "We made sure each pet's paperwork was in order. And we IDed eachcollar; we had a tracking system, in case any animal got separated from their paperwork."1

Maloney could have been a fashion model, with her long blond hair, perfect white teeth, and eyes that implied an internal kindness. The only problem was that she didn't care for high fashion; her passion was animals. Raised in Maryland, Maloney had earned her undergraduate degree at West Virginia University and her MBA at Tulane University. She had worked at the Philadelphia Zoo and New York's Central Park Zoo before landing employment at the Aquarium of the Americas near the French Quarter. She loved everything about New Orleans, except the way stray animals weren't properly cared for. Her husband, Don Maloney, also an animal enthusiast, was general curator of the Audubon Zoo, where he took care of everything from apes to zebras and every species in the alphabet in between. "Animals were a big part of our lives," she recalled. "We shared a deep appreciation for them."

Back in 1997 they had gone to the LSPCA together to adopt what Laura called "the muttiest dog we could." They succeeded in their quest. Tucked away in the back of a kennel was a black-tan German shepherd mix inflicted with chronic tics, heartworm, and a hip crack from what they assumed was an automobile accident. "She was on death row," Laura recalled. "About to be put down, so we adopted her. We named her File."

Maloney was hooked. She quit her job as assistant to the president of Freeport-McMoran, a huge New Orleans-based mineral exploration company, and took over the LSPCA as executive director. Many of New Orleans's nursing homes may have been a shambles, and the housing projects that populated the city in a state of ghastly disrepair, but under her tutelage, the Louisiana SPCA was run with the spic-and-span efficiency of a Swiss hospital. She wouldn't have it any other way. That Saturday morning, Maloney, dressed in blue jeans and a T-shirt, and her staff created an assembly-line approach to load all the animals into a pair of climate-controlled refrigerated trucks headed for Houston's SPCA on Portway Drive. Although the two animal shelters were independent agencies, they operated under the mission statement of the 140-year-old national organization: "Compassion and mercy for those who cannot speak for themselves."2

Transporting 263 dogs and cats was no small task, but there weren't any other options. "The Louisiana SPCA," according to its own stated policy, "evacuates its shelter for Category 3 hurricanes and above."3

At 5 A.M., the National Hurricane Center (NHC) had released an update from its headquarters in Miami. Advisory Number 16 on the tropical storm named Katrina affirmed that with sustained winds of 115 mph, the disturbance had already become a Category 3 hurricane and, moreover, that "some strengthening is forecast during the next twenty-four hours."4 Katrina was still about 350 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico. It had ripped through Florida as a Category 1 hurricane two days before, leaving approximately 500,000 people without power. About eighteen inches of rain had fallen. Driving winds had torn doors off houses, bent trailers like horseshoes, sent sloops surfing onto front lawns, and chewed up industrial parks, coughing out plywood and shards. There were seven reported storm-related deaths from falling trees and other mishaps. Despite the horror, Floridians were hardened to hurricanes. In 2004 alone they had been hit with four of them. The state recovered quickly from Katrina's blow, with the lightning-fast help of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which trucked in water and ice, hospital supplies, and even microclips to properly tag dead bodies. But just because Florida had recovered quite quickly didn't mean that Katrina, still growing in fury, was through with the American coast. "It could be," meteorologist Christopher Sisko told the New York Times, "an extremely dangerous storm."5 According to Advisory 16, in fact, forecasters expected Katrina to turn west-northwest, toward the city of New Orleans, during the weekend.

That was enough for the Louisiana SPCA, which brooked no discussion and no debate: with the announcement that a major hurricane was on the way, the preset plan went into motion. The two trucks arrived at the Japonica Street shelter. "We reached out to them and offered our shelter for the New Orleans animals," Kathy Boulte of the Houston SPCA recalled. "They arrived in Houston and later we all watched on television while the storm grew into a Category 5."6 Laura Maloney had overseen the evacuation of her four dogs, all of the stray pets, and fifteen staff members. "If we had stayed at Japonica Street," Maloney recalled, "we'd have all been goners."7

Twenty miles to the west of New Orleans, near the town of Taft in St. Charles Parish, the Waterford 3 nuclear plant also heeded Saturday's warning. Relying on its own advance . . .

Continues...


Excerpted from The Great Deluge by Douglas Brinkley Copyright © 2006 by Douglas Brinkley. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >