In Katrina's Wake - Donald L. Canney (Non-Fiction)
Released September 2010
In Katrina's Wake details the hard work put forth by the Coast Guard during the 2005 hurricane season. Most of the media focused on New Orleans during that time, but there were many affected in Florida too. The book opens with the rescue of a fishing crew off Florida's coast and then follows Katrina's path of destruction to Louisiana.
My knowledge of New Orleans following the hurricane is limited to what the media showed. Clearly from the photographs, U.S. Coast Guard interviews and first-hand accounts, there was far more to the devastation than the media shared. I fully understand having read this book just how much effort went into rescuing people while also keeping the Coast Guard members safe from panicky people who thought of themselves before the welfare of others.
Despite mandatory evacuation orders in New Orleans, only about 80 percent of the residents opted to leave their homes. This left tens of thousands at risk. The U.S. Coast Guard ended up saving more people in two weeks than they typically do in a five- or six-year span. In addition to the huge numbers needing rescuing, Coast Guard stations were subject to looters stealing their computers, phones and other important supplies. Some Coast Guard stations were destroyed by the storm itself. Many Coast Guard members were also dealing with the loss of their own homes.
Within In Katrina's Wake are photos of U.S. Coast Guard activity and the aftermath of the hurricane. Taking the narrative and photos into account, this offers a much clearer image of the impact the hurricane had on the area. It's a fascinating read and one that is certain to evoke tears from time to time.