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K15: Commemoration of Hurricane Katrina

This page contains selected resources about the history and culture of New Orleans and the impacts of Hurricane Katrina, the levee breaches and the resulting recovery and resilience of a great city. If you have material you would like shared, please email Katie Houck at

Recorded Webinars


Tulane - New Orleans Center for the Gulf South - Katrina A History, 1915 - 2015 from Gulf South on Vimeo.

In commemoration of the 15th anniversary of Katrina, New Orleans Center for the Gulf South presents a discussion of Katrina: A History, 1915-2015 with Tulane historian and author Andy Horowitz and The Atlantic senior editor and Floodlines reporter Vann R. Newkirk II.




Full documentaries are available on Kanopy (free to emails through the Tulane Library)

Big Charity shares the untold story of Charity Hospital - an iconic New Orleans institution which was closed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina through firsthand accounts of hospital employees who withstood the storm, as well as interviews with key players involved in the flood's aftermath.

Bury the Hatchet is a portrait of three Mardi Gras Indian "Big Chiefs." These New Orleans men are the descendants of runaway slaves who were taken in by the Native Americans of the Louisiana bayous. These African-American tribes were once plagued by violent gang-style clashes. Where they once fought with hatchets, they now battle over which Chief has the best suit.

By Invitation Only explores the insular world of the elite, white Carnival societies and debutante balls of Mardi Gras. Questioning their racial exclusivity, filmmaker Rebecca Snedeker takes an unprecedented insider's look at the pageantry and asks: what does it mean to be the queen of the masked men? 

Faubourg Treme is the riveting story of one community's epic struggle for racial equality - from slave revolts and underground free black antebellum resistance, through the challenges of post-Katrina rebuilding today - all set to a fabulous soundtrack of New Orleans music through the ages.

Told through the eyes of urban planners, community organizers, displaced youth, immigrant workers, and public housing residents Land of Opportunity reveals how the story of New Orleans is the story of urban America: how democratic processes can fail us, how economic crisis can pull the rug out from under us, and how (im)migration can prove to be a complicated bargain.

Trouble the Waters is an astonishingly powerful, Oscar-nominated documentary, at once horrifying and exhilarating. It takes you inside Hurricane Katrina in a way never before seen on screen. *Also available on Prime Video


Full documentaries are available on Prime Video (with paid subscription)

Katrina Cop in the Superdome: Exploring the experiences of a black member of the New Orleans Police Department and assorted other New Orleans residents during their stay in the Louisiana Superdome during and after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005. Issues of race, class, government response and responsibility, and political rivalries interweave with personal stories of challenges faced and decisions made.

New Orleans, Street Jazz & Dirty Rap: New Orleans is like no other city in the United States. Proud of its French past, its heart beats to the rhythm of jazz - the city even gave its name to a specific style of jazz. Rusty Lazer, a DJ and bounce music producer; members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and Trombone Shorty tell of the scars of a community deeply wounded by hurricane Katrina and of the way its individual members try to overcome the trauma.

One Note at a Time: 'If the musicians ain't got a chance to live, then what chance has the music got?' Dr John. This is a beautifully crafted, feature documentary, rich with colorful characters, and set in the iconic musical backdrop of New Orleans. In 2005 the music stopped, when one of the most deadly and destructive hurricanes in American history struck.

The Ax in the Attic: Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, filmmakers Lucia Small and Ed Pincus embark upon a sixty-day road trip traveling from their native New England to Louisiana. On their journey they encounter those displaced by the disaster. The film elegantly tackles the difficult issues of race, class and civic responsibility in the United States today.

The Whole Gritty City: This dramatic, music-filled documentary follows kids in three bands as the directors get them ready to perform in the Mardi Gras parades, and teach them to succeed and to survive. Navigating the urban minefield through moments of setback, loss, discovery, and triumph, these children and their adult leaders reveal the power and resilience of a culture.


History Channel Documentary Shorts - “I Was There: Hurricane Katrina," Created for the 10th Anniversary


Hurricane Katrina: Defender of the American Can

         Hurricane Katrina: Rooftop Rider 

Other Documentaries - Hurricane Katrina

After the Flood, This American Life
Surprising stories from survivors in New Orleans. We give people who were in the storm more time than daily news coverage can to tell their stories and talk about what they're thinking. This leads to a number of ideas that haven't made it into the regular news coverage.
Floodlines, The Atlantic
The Atlantic’s eight-part podcast, reported by Vann R. Newkirk II, explores the aftermath of the day the levees broke.
A collection of podcasts from 2009 to 2010 on a number of topics from Education to Mental Health to Media as they relate to Katrina and New Orleans recovery.
Katrina: The Debris, WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio
As the 10th hurricane season begins since the landfall of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, Katrina: The Debris, examines the stories about what was left behind by the storm and the floods that followed.
Playing God, Radiolab WNYCstudios When people are dying and you can only save some, how do you choose? Maybe you save the youngest. Or the sickest. Maybe you even just put all the names in a hat and pick at random. Would your answer change if a sick person was standing right in front of you? In this episode, we follow New York Times reporter Sheri Fink as she searches for the answer. In a warzone, a hurricane, a church basement, and an earthquake, the question remains the same. What happens, what should happen, when humans are forced to play god?
TriPod: New Orleans at 300, WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio WWNO's innovative radio history, released in weekly segments as New Orleans approaches its Tricentennial in 2018. Each TriPod segment is its own micro-documentary, devoted to a single story or subjects from New Orleans' rich history. The series will explore lost and neglected stories, delve deeper into the familiar, and question what we think we know about the city's history.
Radio Broadcasts

What We Learned - And What We Didn't - From Hurricane Katrina, On Point (September 1, 2020)

It’s been 15 years since Hurricane Katrina devastated our country. And while many of us remember the storm as an acute moment in history, a new book is making a case that the lead-up to Katrina made its impacts inevitable. We talk about the structural issues that affected our recovery from Katrina, and what more needs to be done.

After the Storm: Katrina at 15, American Routes (August 26, 2020)
15 years ago the levees failed after Hurricane Katrina and covered 80% of New Orleans in water. The Federal flood left a human and ecological disaster in its wake. We take a look back at the catastrophe, recovery and renewed hope for the culture of the Crescent City with Dr. John, Irma Thomas, the Rebirth Brass Band and Allen Toussaint and archival audio from our first broadcast After the Storm in September 2005.

The Legacy of Hurricane Katrina, 15 Years Later, 1A (August 27, 2020) 

It’s been 15 years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. It left over 1,800 people dead and displaced over a million more. At its time of landfall, Katrina was the fourth-strongest hurricane to touch the American mainland. The 174-mile-per-hour winds and the lack of aid in its wake ensured that some of the city’s residents never returned.
On 15th Anniversary Of Katrina, Lower 9th Ward Resident Calls On New Orleans Diaspora To Come Home, Here and Now (August 28, 2020)  
Robert Green lost his mother and one of his granddaughters in Hurricane Katrina when the storm swept their house off its foundation as they were on the roof. But he tells host Tonya Mosley that on this anniversary, he won't be shedding any tears.
Reading List


15 Years After Katrina, does New Orleans Sound Different Now?, The Tennessean (August 28, 2020)

Remembering Katrina and Its Unlearned Lessons, 15 Years On, New York Times (August 27, 2020)

When the Levees Break Again, New York Times (May 31, 2019)

Myths from Katrina: Field Notes from a Geoscienctist, Minnesota Review (July 2015)


Want to purchase any of these books? Considering purchasing from black-owned local bookstore, the Community Book Center.

New Releases

Katrina: A History 1915-2015, Andy Horowitz (July 2020)

“The definitive history of Katrina: an epic of citymaking, revealing how engineers and oil executives, politicians and musicians, and neighbors black and white built New Orleans, then watched it sink under the weight of their competing ambitions. . . Laying bare the relationship between structural inequality and physical infrastructure—a relationship that has shaped all American cities—Katrina offers a chilling glimpse of the future disasters we are already creating.”

Words Whispers in Water: Why the Levees Broke in Hurricane Katrina, Sandy Rosenthal (August 2020)

“It is the story of one woman's battle to find the culprit in the catastrophic flooding of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Rosenthal looked behind words that blamed wind and water for the devastation. She believed that human beings lurked behind those words. Unraveling a multi-million dollar cover up that media and an elite engineering trade group took part in, Rosenthal faced one of the most powerful agencies in the Federal government––the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers––and won.”

The Yellow House, Sarah Broom (August 2019)

“A brilliant, haunting and unforgettable memoir from a stunning new talent about the inexorable pull of home and family, set in a shotgun house in New Orleans East.”

Select Books

Breach of Faith, Jed Horne (2008)

“Horne takes readers into the private worlds and inner thoughts of storm victims from all walks of life to weave a tapestry as intricate and vivid as the city itself. Politicians, thieves, nurses, urban visionaries, grieving mothers, entrepreneurs with an eye for quick profit at public expense–all of these lives collide in a chronicle that is harrowing, angry, and often slyly ironic.”

Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans, Dan Baum (2009)

“Nine Lives is stunning work. Dan Baum has immersed himself in New Orleans, the most fascinating city in the United States, and illuminated it in a way that is as innovative as Tom Wolfe on hot rods and Truman Capote on a pair of murderers. Full of stylistic brilliance and deep insight and an overriding compassion, Nine Lives is an instant classic of creative nonfiction.” — Pulitzer prize winning author Robert Olen Butler

Not Just the Levees Broke: My Story During and After Hurricane Katrina, Phyllis Montana-Leblanc (2008)

A New Orleans Hurricane Katrina survivor writes an astounding and poignant account of how she and her husband lived through one of the US's worst disasters, and continue to put their lives back together again. Includes a foreword by Spike Lee.

Salvage the Bones: A Novel, Jesmyn Ward (2012)

“Ward tells the story with a tense patience, marking day after day; when the storm comes, overturning everything, it feels like a fatal relief. At least the waiting's over. Salvage the Bones expands our understanding of Katrina's devastation, beyond the pictures of choked rooftops in New Orleans and toward the washed-out, feral landscapes elsewhere along the coast.” – The New Yorker

The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans, Lawrence Powell (2012)

This is the story of a city that shouldn’t exist. In the seventeenth century, what is now America’s most beguiling metropolis was nothing more than a swamp: prone to flooding, infested with snakes, battered by hurricanes. But through the intense imperial rivalries of Spain, France, and England, and the ambitious, entrepreneurial merchants and settlers from four continents who risked their lives to succeed in colonial America, this unpromising site became a crossroads for the whole Atlantic world.

The Inevitable City: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and 10 Principles of Crisis Leadership, Scott Cowen (2015)

“On its surface The Inevitable City is a book about leadership by a man who led his community through a crisis. But what it really is is the story of a love affair, between a man and the city he did so much to save. One day historians will realize how incredible it was that, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans found its greatest leader in a university president. They will turn here to see how and why he did what he did.” —New York Times bestselling author Michael Lewis

10th Anniversary Reading Lists

17 of the Best Things Ever Written About Hurricane Katrina (Last updated 08/28/2015)

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina rumbled ashore, wreaking havoc across Louisiana, Mississippi, and the entire Gulf Coast. Here are some of the best articles and books written about the storm in the decade that followed it, as selected by The Huffington Post’s staff.

Katrina, 10 Years After: A Reading List (Published 08/10/2015)

The authorial voices vary in origin but share a common resonance. Fury tempered by resilience, awe subsumed by fear. Among the ranks are a poet laureate, professor, radioman, scientist, actor, doctor, musician, cartoonist.