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Photos from Katrina's wake
September 1, 2005 3:55 PM   Subscribe

Some of the best still images of what remains in Hurricane Katrina's wake are up over at the Washington Post; there are a lot of compelling shots there that put into perspective the horror of the situation. If you're looking for a well-edited group of photos that convey what the Gulf coast has faced over the past few days, and will face in the coming months, this is it; I'm in awe of the photographers that continue to work hard to document the disaster.
posted by delfuego (48 comments total)

 
Those pictures are as beautiful as they are chilling.
posted by cali at 4:09 PM on September 1, 2005


But.... where are all the white people?
posted by Elpoca at 4:10 PM on September 1, 2005


#23 is pretty incredible but all of the pictures are telling and sad. Thanks for posting this.
posted by fenriq at 4:11 PM on September 1, 2005


But.... where are all the white people?

Statistically, random shots of people in the city would not include that many white people.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:21 PM on September 1, 2005


Yeah, #23 is fantastic.

But.... where are all the white people?

Uh, lets see - 8, 9, probably 10, 12, 16, and I would assume in 21.
posted by SweetJesus at 4:22 PM on September 1, 2005


wow.
posted by realcountrymusic at 4:23 PM on September 1, 2005


Statistically, random shots of people in the city would not include that many white people.

Keep telling yourself that. The truth is that the white people boarded their SUVs and headed for the Ho-Jo somewhere upstate.

It is a sad indictment of the real disparity between affluent white folks and most people of colour in America.

Sorry, I just got done reading Tortilla Curtain and I'm feeling uppity.
posted by Dag Maggot at 4:27 PM on September 1, 2005


Ah, yes. In 8 it's the guy in the plane, in 9 it's the guy flying the helicopter, in 10 it's the guy driving the truck, in 16 it's the guy driving the boat, and in 21 it's the guys guarding the prisoners.

So, I ask again, where are all the white people?

And no, I'm not just trolling. These photos highlight that the self-evacuation using private vehicles policy left the black majority behind to fare for themselves.
posted by Elpoca at 4:33 PM on September 1, 2005


... and I was going to say "left behind to die", but I didn't want to sound melodramatic.
posted by Elpoca at 4:34 PM on September 1, 2005


These pictures are amazing and horrific. Make sure you look through the other categories too. I still can't comprehend all the destruction.
posted by kyleg at 4:35 PM on September 1, 2005


Thank you for this post.
posted by mr.marx at 4:36 PM on September 1, 2005


The one that's currently on the front page of the NY Times web site really surprised me. They actually show a body. Link in case they change it.
posted by smackfu at 4:40 PM on September 1, 2005


So, I ask again, where are all the white people?

Well, logically that argument is silly. Just because there are not many photos of while people on the Washington Post website (although they are interviewing a guy white guy on the side of the highway on CNN right now) does not mean those people do not exist. I would also argue that the old woman in the shit-stained housecoat being lifted off a truck by the two National Guardsmen in #12 speaks to the plight of the elderly - black, white or fuckin green.

Obviously, common sense would also tell you that in a city filled with primarily poor black people, who either didn't have the ability or inclination to leave, it's those same people who will need the most help afterwards.

But, why the wise ass tone? Why the need to find racism in this horrible fucking tragedy?
posted by SweetJesus at 4:44 PM on September 1, 2005


These photos highlight that the self-evacuation using private vehicles policy left the black majority behind to fare for themselves.

If there's a black majority, most of the photos will be of black people. I've seen plenty of poor white people in the devestation in Mississippi.
posted by smackfu at 4:44 PM on September 1, 2005


From the BBC (my emphasis):
According to the White House, nearly 155,350 sq miles (250,000 sq km) has been affected by the hurricane - an area roughly the size of the UK.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:46 PM on September 1, 2005


But, why the wise ass tone?

Sigh... It's a legitimate argument. Again, the evacuation policy resulted in the greatest impact of the hurricane being felt by the poor, who, in the region impacted, are overwhelmingly black. It's not as if the effects of the hurricane are a surprise. Indeed, they were expecting worse. So why wasn't a more pro-active evacuation policy implemented that would have resulted in fewer casualties amongst the poorer people of New Orleans?

Just because there are not many photos of while people on the Washington Post

It's not just the Washington Post. If you haven't been struck by the numbers of black people in the images and video of the hurricane aftermath, then you must be colorblind...
posted by Elpoca at 5:02 PM on September 1, 2005


Sigh... It's a legitimate argument. Again, the evacuation policy resulted in the greatest impact of the hurricane being felt by the poor, who, in the region impacted, are overwhelmingly black. It's not as if the effects of the hurricane are a surprise. Indeed, they were expecting worse. So why wasn't a more pro-active evacuation policy implemented that would have resulted in fewer casualties amongst the poorer people of New Orleans?

Well, I imagine there are less sinister reasons at work than racism. There are what, 500,000 or a million people in New Orleans? If I'm wrong on the numbers, correct me, but it would be damn near impossible to get all those people out on government-owned transportation, and put them in shelters in the amount of time they had.

Secondly, if you could arrange that kind of logistical and tactical support from whomever (FEMA doesn't have that kind of money, but lets say it does) there are many poor people, white and black (although, primarily black in NO) who don't trust the government. I'm white, I don't trust the government either, so I don't blame them.

Thirdly, if the flood walls hadn't broke, we wouldn't be talking about this. The money taken away from NOLA flood protection was earmarked for Iraq, which has less to do with racism, than to do with idiocy and ideology.
posted by SweetJesus at 5:14 PM on September 1, 2005


It would be damn near impossible to get all those people out on government-owned transportation, and put them in shelters in the amount of time they had.

As far as I understand, there wasn't even an attempt...

And ignoring the racial element of this tragedy seems to be rather racist in itself, so quit implying that I'm introducing racism where it doesn't belong.
posted by Elpoca at 5:24 PM on September 1, 2005


It's just that racism is such a stretch, and hindsight is 20-20. I admit, and I'll be the first to admit that this whole thing has been handled with the utmost incompetence. But I also don't think that the black mayor of N.O., and the Democratic governor of LA wanted anyone to die.

When you search for implied, or implicit racism, you'll always find it. I'm not naive, and I don't think the failure to evacuate N.O. had anything to do with the skin color of the people who lived there.
posted by SweetJesus at 5:35 PM on September 1, 2005


Did these people want to leave, and were unable to? Or did they decide not to leave because they though it wouldn't be that bad?

If you don't know the answer to that, you can't say how much better they could have done. Unless you're advocating forced evacuation, which would go badly.
posted by smackfu at 5:36 PM on September 1, 2005


Race is not an issue. Poverty is an issue.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:50 PM on September 1, 2005


Wow. Thanks delfuego. Also, smackfu's linked image is as chilling as it is weird - is that woman pouring water in some kind of food container for her dog? And, most notably, what's that red thing on the body? Is that a question mark on there?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:51 PM on September 1, 2005


Pretty_Generic: Race is not an issue. Poverty is an issue.

And the two aren't linked? I'm a hell of a lot more sensitive to class issues than racial issues, having grown up lower class and white, but to suggest that they're unlinked is facetious.

Technically, yes - there were no "Whites Only" signs on the highways out of New Orleans. That said, to ignore the fact that the vast majority of the affected were African-American is ridiculous.

As of the 2000 Census, New Orleans was 28.05% White and 67.25% African-American. I would be willing to bet $20 that the demographics of the people who were in New Orleans do not match that, and skew towards the African-American population.

SweetJesus: There are what, 500,000 or a million people in New Orleans? If I'm wrong on the numbers, correct me, but it would be damn near impossible to get all those people out on government-owned transportation, and put them in shelters in the amount of time they had.

Only around 50,000 to 100,000 people were in New Orleans at the time, from what I've heard. You don't have to give everyone a ride, but leaving people behind because they can't get out themselves is not an evacuation plan. Evacuation is about getting people out, not simply letting people know that they're fucked.

N.B.: This does not mean that anyone wanted people to die, but rather that systemic problems produced this result.
posted by Coda at 6:11 PM on September 1, 2005


Poverty and Race are linked, so I guess that makes it an issue again. Jeez, my head hurts.
posted by iamck at 6:15 PM on September 1, 2005


I still don't understand why they closed the airport so early. The government could have diverted a ton of planes to fly people to Atlanta, and haul the rest out with semi trailer trucks from the airport.

Not a comfy ride, but better than taking your chances in a doomed city. On another note, could a more responsive administrative branch have whipped this together in time?
posted by parallax7d at 6:27 PM on September 1, 2005


That's the clumsiest photo slide show interface I've seen in a long time.
posted by twsf at 6:35 PM on September 1, 2005


The moment people were told to leave, there should have been free bus transportation lined up for miles in the city center. Simple as that. Race or not, the govt. did basically nothing to save poor people.
posted by nightchrome at 6:51 PM on September 1, 2005



Any link to a non-flash version? No flash here ...

"Why don't you take 2 minutes to install flash?" Cos it doesn't exist for my machine, that's why!
posted by lundman at 6:52 PM on September 1, 2005


Amtrak could also have evacuated large numbers of people. There was even a plan in effect to do just that. And yet...
posted by Karmakaze at 7:08 PM on September 1, 2005


Thanks for posting this.
posted by josephtate at 7:25 PM on September 1, 2005


Hey motherfucking ass-designer, here's MY FUCKING INTERFACE.

1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 ... 5 ... 6 ... 7 ... 8 ... 9 ... 10 ... 11 ... 12 ... 13 ... 14 ... 15 ... 16 ... 17 ... 18 ... 19 ... 20 ... 21 ... 22 ... 23

What's that? You don't like that people can now save it to their hard drive and email it to their friends? Fair use, motherfucker. goddamned fucktard designers

Oh, and #13 is an amazing catch--check out the words on her "shoes".
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:05 PM on September 1, 2005


If you believe that the 23.7% of families formerly in New Orleans that were below the poverty line* were not primarily black then you are warm and dry and refuse to believe your own eyes.

However, I don't think the current administration or NOLA political leaders are racist. I believe they simply don't give a damn about our poor. The poor can't contribute cash to their political campaigns. The poor can't hire them for lucrative lobbyist jobs. The poor are mute in a world where "money is speech."

* (2000 Census)
posted by ?! at 8:29 PM on September 1, 2005


Race is not an issue. Poverty is an issue.

Exactly. And in a city that's already 67% black across all economic factors, I think you're going to find a huge number of the poor are black. Poverty (and wealth) stays in families, and so does education level. The disparity is the effects centuries of racism and slavery. It'll go away eventually (we can hope) but it's going to take a long time.

Anyway, white or black those people are fucked six ways from Sunday right now. This is an absolute disgrace. The incompetence of our government is staggering. They knew this was coming for 3 or 4 days. They had years to figure everything out, and they just... didn't. They acted like it wasn't going to happen.

Ugh.
posted by delmoi at 8:48 PM on September 1, 2005


Oh, I also wanted to say: #23 is beautiful.
posted by delmoi at 8:49 PM on September 1, 2005


Not to feed the flames, but these photographers (and their editors) are also choosing the most compelling shots. Race has a complicated and sometimes contradictory relationship with empathy -- there may have been less photos taken or chosen of caucasians not because they weren't there, but because on some level, these conveyed more tragedy. (as opposed to photos of the Asian tsunami, which out west were overwhelmingly of white tourists, presumably because we could most relate to their experience).
posted by dreamsign at 8:53 PM on September 1, 2005


#23 is a photographer waiting around for half an hour for some kid to run through a light beam. Beautiful, yes, and that kind of patience should be lauded. But #13 is keen observation skills, fabulous timing, and buckets full of luck. I'm impressed with tenacity, I'm awestruck with dumb luck.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:56 PM on September 1, 2005


I'm impressed with tenacity, I'm awestruck with dumb luck.

Good photographers make their luck. They keep their eyes open, and their gear ready, because, yeah, you never know when the shot is there.

We all see these shots. Pros make sure they see every one they possibly can, that they have a camera in their hands when they see them, and that they know the gear cold so that they can get the shot.

Having said that, it's still just an amazing shot, and I wouldn't be surprised if it won the Pulitzer. It's perfect, in so many ways.

MY FUCKING INTERFACE.

C_D, that's wrong in all the right ways. :)
posted by eriko at 9:07 PM on September 1, 2005


"Statistically, random shots of people in the city would not include that many white people.

Dag Maggot : "Keep telling yourself that. The truth is that the white people boarded their SUVs and headed for the Ho-Jo somewhere upstate."

The truth may be both. One does not obviate the other.

Elpoca : "If you haven't been struck by the numbers of black people in the images and video of the hurricane aftermath, then you must be colorblind..."

I don't think it's that I'm colorblind. I went to New Orleans last year. I saw mainly black people. I see these pictures. It's mainly black people.

I'm not saying that there isn't a problem here. I'm not saying that income and racial disparity isn't a big problem here. I'm not saying that all the issues that are being brought up aren't true. All I'm saying is that the pictures, themselves, aren't as telling as people make them out to be.
posted by Bugbread at 9:11 PM on September 1, 2005



#2: "....like so much Spanish moss."

Strikes me as rather colloquial and irreverent.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:18 PM on September 1, 2005


goddamned fucktard designers

It seems unlikely to me that the designer had any choice in the matter.

check out the words on her "shoes"

I think you mean his, not her.
posted by jjg at 9:40 PM on September 1, 2005


Anyone got a link to a pic of a flooded jail... Saw it on the MSM news last night. It looked like it had an uncovered, but grated, roof.

All these orange jumpsuited prisoners appeared like they were on the top bunk of a bed or something with only had a couple of feet to spare. It was quite surreal. So surreal I reckon I might have imagined it.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:46 PM on September 1, 2005


I would like to publicly take back what I suggested earlier in this thread. Perhaps the photographers were choosing carefully, but I had no idea that an evacuation order had been made without an actual god damned evacuation. The poor certainly seem to have been left for dead. This is a nightmare.

nightchrome, coda, et al, have it.
posted by dreamsign at 11:45 PM on September 1, 2005


i spend ten minutes watching various news channels this evening (fox, msnbc, cnn) and on each fucking one of them i heard the expression "these people" or "those people" over footage of flood victims and looters (and, presumably, both). 95% or more african-american.

the federal government is sending the message "fend for yourselves, suckers."

isn't the anemic response on the federal level indicative of exactly where this administration's priorities are vis-a-vis policies toward the poor? people are begging for help, it's five days into the crisis, there may be thousands dead, and bush and condi are all s-t-r-e-t-c-h. that was some good relaxin'!

you can bet that if this was a comparatively wealthy city in an area more politically important to bush, the response would be drastically different. but these fucks in the administration don't care enough about poor, mostly black, people in a majority democratic city enough to cut their fucking vacations short!

can administration apologists conjure up a scenario where similar destruction hits wealthy areas of dallas or houston or miami and the federal response is so feeble?

new orleans is a third-world warzone right now, and the federal government couldn't care less because the poor don't matter to them at all.
posted by Hat Maui at 1:26 AM on September 2, 2005




I wonder what they will do with hundreds of thousands of pissed off people after this is over. Refuge Camps? Will they be allowed to enter and leave at will?
posted by srboisvert at 3:34 AM on September 2, 2005


If I were Howard Dean, I'd pay to have them bused to the Capital Mall and set up a refugee camp there. First we got third-world elections from the republicans in Florida, now we get third-world disaster management from the republicans in Washington. Shame on every last one of them.
posted by felix betachat at 3:49 AM on September 2, 2005


That's actually a pretty good idea, felix.

It seems unlikely to me that the designer had any choice in the matter.

Sure, sure, just following orders.

I think you mean his, not her.

I think you're right.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:13 AM on September 2, 2005



Lots of people in that area - the poor and the old and the sick - get checks from the goverment on the 1st of the month. They spend for the month with that money, so by the end of the month they are broke.

The storm hit on the 29th.

Many people could not afford the $50 to fill their gas tanks to leave. The interviewee said they people were begging him to please loan them the money for gas. They were forced to stay, and forced to stay when they were broke.

This all could have been anticipated.
posted by robbyrobs at 5:18 AM on September 2, 2005


Excellent set of photos. Thanks.
posted by OmieWise at 7:37 AM on September 2, 2005


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