Mary Zatina – The Point Person

Mary Zatina PortraitMary Zatina, 47, served as point-person in charge of the State of Michigan’s response to Hurricane Katrina. Governor Jennifer Granholm made clear that Michigan would do whatever it could to assist those of the affected region, and she put Mary in charge of the effort. Meanwhile, Mary’s husband, Kevin Prihod, packed his Saturn Vue and headed off to Louisiana; he served as a Humane Society volunteer for three weeks in Plaquemines Parish. Kevin brought home a surrendered Pit Bull/Boxer mix he named Belle (after Belle Chaise), a decision that has lead to unforeseen difficulties. Before and after Katrina, Mary also served as the Chief of Staff in the Office of the First Gentleman. I interviewed Mary on January 16, 2007, in Detroit, Michigan. More »

Candace Strahan – The Survivor

Candace Strahan PortraitCandace Strahan, 57, and her husband, Jim Strahan, 57, survived the storm in their Bay St. Louis, Mississippi home—a two-story house built 1500 feet from the beach. They remained on their second floor as the ocean surged through their first floor. The waves lapped ceilings that were 10 feet high. But unlike most of the neighboring houses, their house did not collapse. I met with Ms. Strahan on March 13th, 2006, in a Shoney’s restaurant in Picayune, MS, one of the few Picayune restaurants open six months after the storm. More »

Dr. Jay Segarra – The Rooftop Survivor

Dr. Jay Segarra PortraitDr. Jay Segarra, 51, is the Chief of Pulmonary Medicine at the Keesler Air Force Base hospital in Biloxi, MS, as well as a private practitioner in Ocean Springs, MS. Two years after Katrina, he and his wife Lisa continue to live in Ocean Springs. I met with Dr. Segarra twice: on April 24th, 2006, in Vienna, VA, and then at his newly refurbished Ocean Springs home on July 27, 2007. More »

Sandy Rosenthal – The Citizen Activist

Sandy RosenthalSandy Rosenthal, 50, is the founder and director of Levees.Org, a grassroots organization who seeks to inform all that New Orleans was destroyed primarily by bad engineering and not bad weather. Levees.Org has played a crucial role in spreading the word that the New Orleans disaster was a man-made disaster and that we should: “Hold the Corps Accountable.” Ms. Rosenthal has no prior political experience. I interviewed her in her Uptown New Orleans home on October 12, 2006. More »

Asna Rooshi – The Homemaker

Asna RooshiAsna Rooshi, 30, was born in Hyderabad, India. Prior to Katrina, she and her husband lived in Chalmette, LA. I met and interviewed her on October 12, 2005, at the Houston Disaster Recovery Center, a cavernous retail space that housed all the government and non-profit liaisons to Houston-area Katrina evacuees. I originally approached her husband. It became clear that it was she who wished to speak. More »

Printiss Polk – The Roofer

Printiss PolkPrintiss, 24, is a roofer, from the Ninth Ward of New Orleans. This interview was conducted on September 5, 2005, in the park across the street from the George R. Brown Convention Center, in Houston, Texas. There are several people around, mostly men, sitting on the benches. The mood is calm. Towards the back of the park, several young men pass around cigarettes that may or may not be marijuana. On occasion, Printiss himself gets up to take drags off a friend’s cigarette. He appears tired, as if he’s still in a state of shock. More »

James Nolan – The Holdout

James NolanJames Nolan, 58, is a widely published poet, essayist, fiction writer, and translator. He is also a fifth-generation New Orleanian. While he spent much of his adult life traveling and living abroad, he considers the French Quarter home. This interview was conducted December 21st, 2005, in Mr. Nolan’s Dumaine Street apartment. More »

Erin Kidwell – The Volunteer

Erin KidwellErin Kidwell, 27, is an actor and director from Friendswood, TX. She was interviewed December 28th, 2005, on a bench outside the Menil Collection in Houston, TX. When we met, she was fresh from a yoga class, in yoga sweats, and carrying her lunch: a bowl of soup. More »

Dr. Ben deBoisblanc – The Physician

Dr. Ben DeboisblancDr. Ben deBoisblanc, 50, was the Director of Critical Care Services at Charity Hospital, in New Orleans. This interview was done in two sessions, both times at Ichiban Restaurant in Baton Rouge. Interviews were either before or after his shift at the Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, where he works post-Katrina. More »

Jermaine Cooke – The Evacuee

Jermaine CookeJermaine, 30, is from the Ninth Ward of New Orleans. This interview was conducted September 9, 2005, in the park across the street from the George R. Brown Convention Center, in Houston, Texas. When I met Jermaine, he was leaning against the base of a statue talking with other young men. He spoke with gold dental “fronts” top and bottom. He appeared to be stoned. At first, he was reluctant to be interviewed, but then he relented. He would not allow me to record or photograph him. More »

Rick Brennan – The Houstonian

Rick BrennanRick Brennan, 31, is a middle-school teacher in Houston, Texas. He is also the former president of the Harris County Young Democrats. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Rick and his brother purchased a fixer-upper house in Southwest Houston, with plans to renovate and sell. They could have not have anticipated that SW Houston would soon house so many of Katrina’s evacuees. Katrina affected Rick’s life not only as a teacher and as an activist/volunteer, but as a homeowner as well. This interview took place on October 2nd, 2006, in Houston, TX. More »

Lt. Col. Rick Noriega – The Shelter Manager

Lt. Col. Rick NoriegaLt. Col. Rick Noriega, 49, served as Site Manager for one of Houston’s mega-shelters, the George R. Brown Convention Center. He recently served a year in Afghanistan. He was only home one week before Mayor White asked him to manage the shelter. In addition to working for CenterPoint Energy, Lt. Col. Noriega is a Texas state representative. The interview took place on March 6, 2006 in his state representative office in Houston. More »

John Boutte – The Musician

John BoutteJohn Boutte, 48, is a critically acclaimed jazz vocalist and songwriter, born and raised in New Orleans. Our interview took place in Detroit, on February 28, 2007, a few hours before his performance at the Music Hall. When not traveling, he can be seen at his regular Friday night gig at dba on Frenchmen Street. To sample his music, please check out his Myspace page. Several performances can also be found on YouTube. More »