The Hurricanes: One High School Team's Homecoming After Katrina

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In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina pummeled the lower end of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, a peninsula housing one of the nation’s most isolated, vulnerable, and vital counties. A year later several ravaged communities came together to form South Plaquemines High. Kids who were former rivals defiantly nicknamed their football team the Hurricanes and made the 2006 state playoffs.

In 2007, South Plaquemines set its sights on a state championship. The Hurricanes used a trailer as a...

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The Hurricanes: One High School Team's Homecoming After Katrina

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Overview

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina pummeled the lower end of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, a peninsula housing one of the nation’s most isolated, vulnerable, and vital counties. A year later several ravaged communities came together to form South Plaquemines High. Kids who were former rivals defiantly nicknamed their football team the Hurricanes and made the 2006 state playoffs.

In 2007, South Plaquemines set its sights on a state championship. The Hurricanes used a trailer as a makeshift locker room and lifted weights in a destroyed gym that had no electricity. For the players, many of them still living in FEMA trailers, football offered a refuge.

Bestselling author Jeré Longman spent two seasons following the team. In The Hurricanes, the team’s journey provides a lens through which to view the legacy of Katrina, the cycle of poverty in rural America, and the attempt to maintain traditions in the face of uncertainty. Football is a familiar remnant of the way things used to be—and a sign of hope in a place of disaster.

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Editorial Reviews

Jay Jennings
Longman, a native of south Louisiana and a sports reporter for The New York Times, is at his best when writing mini-essays on history, geography and sociology, and when describing, in all their rustic simplicity, the residents: their hearty acceptance of difficult jobs, their rich enjoyment of good food ("cooks knew how to smother a raccoon in wild onions until the meat fell from the bone"), their commitment to family and friends.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
A year after Hurricane Katrina pummeled the lower end of New Orleans' Plaquemines Parish, a peninsula housing one of the nation's most isolated and vulnerable counties, students from several demolished area schools set aside their rivalries at newly created South Plaquemines High. Cyril Crutchfield Jr., former coach at Port Sulphur High, took over the new school's football team-called, naturally, the Hurricanes-and led a ragtag group of players, living in FEMA trailers and lifting weights in a crumbling gymnasium, to the 2006 state playoffs. In 2007, the Hurricanes made another bid for the state championship, and New York Times sports writer Longman (Among the Heroes: United Flight 93 and the Passengers and Crew Who Fought Back) was granted exclusive access to every down. The result is an unflinching and often unflattering chronicle that reads like the series of newspaper articles it began as. It's clear that Longman, a native Louisianan, immersed himself in the local culture, and his insistence on providing political and social context makes this much more than a sports book. Unfortunately, Logman gets bogged down in that context ( as in nearly 20 pages on oyster farming), trying to make a big story-full of heart, sacrifice and the kind of American stories for which "inspired by" movies are made-even bigger.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal

Adult/High School

Longman follows high school football coach Cyril Crutchfield, Jr., in his dogged determination to rebuild Louisiana's Plaquemines Parish through the sport. Teen rivals from three different schools joined together at the new South Plaquemines High. Overcoming many obstacles-including lifting weights in a makeshift training room in a ruined gym while watching highlights of opposing teams on a VCR run by a generator-this team made it to the 2006 state playoffs. Their goal for the next season was the state championship at the Dome in New Orleans. In addition to being a story about football, the book showcases the rebuilding of a community rich in tradition and commitment to family. It also highlights struggles with insurance companies, the poorly built FEMA trailers, and government subsidies. Share this title with fans of Friday Night Lights or those who want to learn about the effects of Hurricane Katrina on a small community.-Gregory Lum, Jesuit High School, Portland, OR

The Barnes & Noble Review
Before Hurricane Katrina hit, Cyril Crutchfield Jr. decided to stay in lower Plaquemines Parish, a peninsula south of New Orleans that had about half of the Gulf's oil supply coming through it as well as hundreds of millions of pounds of shrimp, crabs, and oysters annually. The state championship–winning high school football coach clearly had no idea what he was in for, fearing for his life as the water rose quickly up the gym bleachers he sat atop and the windows blew out. He managed to catch his championship trophy when it was floating by. "If it was a choice between saving a person and the state championship trophy, it was a no-brainer. I was saving that trophy," Crutchfield told Longman. When the storm was over, his part of the parish was devastated. One bit of stability people learned to look for throughout the region was high school football. Jeré Longman, a sportswriter for The New York Times who wrote the bestselling Among the Heroes: United Flight 93, grew up less than 200 miles northwest of New Orleans, in Cajun country. Here he carefully chronicles the story of Crutchfield and many of the players on his new team, the defiantly named Hurricanes -- a combination of three high school teams from the parish -- as they battle toward a state championship. From incredible lows (recruitment violations were committed in the hours after the storm by rival high schools) to the reunion atmosphere of Hurricane games as people returned to the region, Longman's story is way more than one about football. It's a fascinating microcosm of the overarching Katrina story with a twist: Poverty may be a cycle that many Americans can't find their way out of, but hope can be found in all sorts of places, including a high school football game. --Mark J. Miller
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586486730
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 8/25/2008
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeré Longman, a sportswriter for The New York Times who has written about sports for over thirty years, grew up on the Cajun prairie in Eunice, Louisiana. Jeré is the author of the New York Times bestseller and Notable Book, Among the Heroes: United Flight 93 and the Passengers and Crew Who Fought Back, The Girls of Summer, and If Football’s a Religion, Then Why Don’t We Have a Prayer? He lives in Philadelphia.

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Table of Contents


Storm Warning     1
A Tide of Extraordinary Circumstances     22
A New School Opens     40
A Chance to Equal Our Strife     58
"Son of a Gun, We'll Have Big Fun on the Bayou"     77
"Call Everybody! Call the White House!"     96
"They Can't Call Us Paper Champions Anymore"     105
A Chain's as Strong as Its Weakest Link     110
"I Can't Sit. I've Got to Play."     125
"Like Pit Bulls on a Fresh Pack of Pork Chops"     137
"Like Chasing a Ghost"     147
"If There Was a Time to Live, It's Now"     163
"Like the Storm Keeps Happening Over and Over"     173
"Nothingness Builds Bridges to Nowhere"     180
A Coach Suspended, a Player Hurt     193
"I'd Rather Them Do Anything But This."     200
Bloody Mary     214
Controlled Rage     225
"How 'Bout Them Cowboys!"     237
Life on the Half Shell     252
"Knock Somebody Out!"     271
An Opponent Named Desire     282
Crutch in the Hole     299
Big Stage Right There     316
Epilogue     333
Acknowledgments     343
Bibliography     347
Index     349
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2014

    East hampton hurraicans

    Whyyyyyyyyyyyyh not bobs hurraicans

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2008

    the hurricanes

    even though i didn't read the book i was on the team but i am goin to get the book and i will write a review about it. i was the first person to wear the number 20.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2008

    Waste of time and money!!!!!

    The book is a dissapointment to the people of our parish. He made us sound foolish and ingnorant and the coach sound horrible. He is a good man and he stands by ALL his players. It is a game of discipline and requires you to be tuff but not as evil as he sounds in this book. I am very unhappy about the book and I am ashamed that people are reading it and thinking this about our team!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2008

    Do not waste your money

    I am from this town, and this book was more than a disappointment. Longman seemed like a nice man while he was down here interviewing everybody, and our town was excited about this book about our football team. I bought it as soon as it came out, and didn't even finish reading it. Longman is condescending to the people of Plaquemines Parish. He makes it sound as if we are all ignorant hillbillies that do nothing. He published private information that was uncalled for. The book also had some questionable quotes. There is so much profanity in the book that after only the first few chapters, I skipped to read only about the people I knew. Longman did not pay much attention to details either because some of the names in the book are incorrect. He made our coach seem like a fool. I am upset that this book is available for people to read and get the wrong impression of our home. We accepted this man into our community, we trusted him, and he turned around and wrote this.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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