Gulf Coast Memoirs/Narratives

Katrina Memoirs offer moving accounts of how survivors navigated life before and after the storm. Whether written from the perspective of a child, parent, or elderly person, they capture what life was like in countless communities before Katrina, the profound uncertainty that accompanied the hurricane's impact, and how lives were forever changed in its aftermath. Visitors can read about the Meadows family's ordeal as recounted by their daughter Alice, shares the harrowing experience of living through the storm on the Gulf Coast before the family's relocation to Bettendorf, Iowa. Other sources include an unpublished diary by a Mississippi engineer, or the moving account by Akbar Brumenade on surviving the storm's impact in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Watch Father Louis Lohan's story below:


We want to be remembered. From the first cave paintings on cave walls tens of thousands of years ago to the Golden Record that still travels with the space probe Voyager I through the stars to Instagram today, humans want to leave some sort of memory behind. There are many forms of memory available to humans and their civilizations in the early 21st century but still one of the strongest is the photograph.

Like other forms of memory, photographs allow us to capture a moment in time. This moment can help us remember what it felt like to live through an event, what it was like to interact with another person or group. They can help us process emotions, commemorate anniversaries, and so much more. In the aftermath of major natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, photographs are an important memory tool for those who survived and those who want to learn from what happened.

From New Orleans to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, photographs taken before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina show a region severely impacted by the storm. Roads were wiped out, homes and bridges destroyed, and it has been estimated that nearly 2,000 people lost their lives. Photographs allow those left behind to remember what happened, and what was lost, before, during, and after the storm. They help other people learn how the region and its people survived and recovered from the storm and serve as an enduring reminder of the terrible power of Mother Nature.

Dozens of photographs capturing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and its subsequent aftermath are available here: Katrina Photographs

Oral Histories

Stories have power. We are a species who likes to tell them and engage with them. We need them in a way. From the first campfires of pre-history to outside the Solar System, stories have influenced humans and their civilizations. These stories have helped us process emotions, events, and things we don't understand. For example, in ancient civilizations like Babylon, the people believed that gods, goddess, and various demons controlled the world around them and if you made them happy, then things would go well but anger them and things would become bad. Stories like this, and so many others have helped and guided humanity across thousands of years of history and civilizations.

When events like natural disasters happen, things like hurricanes as just one example, we use stories to help process what happened during the event and in its aftermath. This helps us come together as communities, helps people remember, and helps everyone in one way or the other move forward. There are power in these stories. This is why in the aftermath of natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, people and groups want to take down stories and other remembrances of what happened before, during, and after the event. One form of these stories is oral history.

Below is a series of oral histories from people who survived Hurricane Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In their own words, often soon after Katrina, people recorded their thoughts and feelings in the aftermath of a version of the end of the world. We hope you feel the power in these stories that help us to remember, move forward, and honor the past.

Dozens of interviews with Katrina survivors sharing their experiences of the storm and its aftermath can be found here: Katrina Oral Histories