Citizens K, Citizen Cree, Katrina Katrina Katrina

August 29th, 2006 by Larry Smith

Katrina, Katrina, Katrina, Katrina, Katrina, Katrina, Katrina, Katrina, Katrina.

You’re not getting away from it today, and if you’re like me you don’t want to. Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath in New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast, as well as its reverb into the likes of Houston and Atlanta, has been covered well over the past year by the media. That’s a huge generalization, sure, but the story was one that the press felt compelled to stay with throughout the year, much as it has with 9/11. The reason, I think, is because it’s a story about personal stories—everyone who felt that storm’s touch has a story to tell.

Our contribution to today’s coverage, Citizens K: The 10 Best Blogs by, from and About New Orleans—One Year After Katrina, is up now, lovingly researched and written by our gal in the Gulf, Cree McCree (more on her in a minute).

Because of our limited resources and also because of our mission, SMITH can’t cover Katrina like The New Yorker, in which Dan Baum’s coverage began almost instantly and has been bold and surprising; NPR, where Farai Chideya’s radio reports have been so good; a certain daily newspaper; or Slate. (One of Slate’s editors, Josh Levin, grew up in New Orleans and has been doing periodic dispatches from trips home. I saved his first one, from August 31, 2005, which included this memorable line: “A little more than 48 hours after Katrina strafed the city, I’m starting to mourn a place that’s not quite dead but seems too stricken to go on living.”)

But when my friend Cree McCree started sending me letters about her escape from her adopted hometown (with her three black cats and all), and the months living with family in Asheville, NC, I realized her letters could become dispatches to all SMITH readers, not just to her old pal from her New York City magazine days. So as New Orleans began to show signs up life, Cree began her online diary, Going Home to New Orleans: A Returnee’s P.O.V. on the People, Problems, and Passions of Life in the Big Easy After Katrina. Hers is a distinctly personal perspective, of course. And if you’re not lucky enough to know Cree in real space, get to know her virtually. It’s not just anyone who can turn her mother’s BM troubles into a metaphor for the entire situation in the Big Easy.

Let’s hope the press keeps up with life after Katrina beyond Year One. Here at SMITH, we’re hatching up a couple of surprising ways we plan on continuing to tell the story. A free SMITH T-shirt to the first person who can comment here about what form you think that might take.

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