Many of you have expressed concern for how the residents of the south Louisiana areas where Beasts was filmed have been affected by Hurricane Isaac. One week after Isaac hit Louisiana, New Orleans based Beasts outreacher Marianna recaps the experience and updates us on the aftermath. We feel fortunate that the specific communities we filmed in weathered the storm better than expected for the most part, while some neighboring areas were hit hard and are just beginning their recovery.
In New Orleans, we fared much better than some of our neighboring parishes. We only lost power, and except for the occasional downed tree, escaped unscathed. We had little to no flooding in Orleans Parish.
The towns of Braithwaite and Lafitte did not fare well, and parts of LaPlace, Madisonville, Plaquemines Parish, St. Tammany Parish, St. Charles Parish, and St. John Parish had substantial damage and it will take them months, and in many cases, years to recover from the storm. Beasts Head Chef Barbara Dupre, who lives in Montegut, said that intially many trees and light poles were knocked down, but that they now have lights. Water was still out as of two days ago and there was minor flooding, but everyone was ok.
Isaac was an unusual storm due to the fact that it sat over the region for 48 hours, and moved at an extremely slow pace. Usually, a hurricane will get in and get out pretty fast, with one day of heavy rain and winds. Isaac made landfall on the shores of Louisiana, backed up into the Gulf, and then made landfall a second time. It's important to take every storm seriously and be prepared; that being said, usually a category 1 is not expected to create too much damage, but Isaac crawled over the state at a rate of about 6 mph and was far more destructive than anticipated.
Another unusual outcome of Isaac was the areas that flooded. If you live in southeast Louisiana, you know what your chances of flooding are--this isn't your first rodeo. So you prepare accordingly, either deciding to evacuate or ride it out. This time, though, places in LaPlace, Braithwaite, Plaquemines Parish, St. Tammany Parish, St. Charles Parish, and St. John Parish, that normally don't flood (and didn't flood during Katrina), had massive flooding.
The areas that flooded are communities outside of the Federal Levee Protection System. The levees that were overtopped in Braithwaite are local levees, built with the money of the residents who live there. Their levee has done well in the past, and this time (for reasons we're still not entirely sure of), it wasn't enough. A storm like Isaac brings up the discussion of where federal levees should be built, and it will be interesting to see what might result.
On top of all of this, local fishermen have to worry about tar balls that are washing up on beaches in Grand Isle. There's a concern that the winds from Isaac stirred up leftover oil from BP's Deep Water Horizon spill from over two years ago.
There are obvious parallels between the spirit of the residents of the Bathtub and that of the residents in Southeast Louisiana--many are already vowing to rebuild, and find a better way to protect their communities.
For many of us, this region is where we were born and the only place we can imagine living. One of the lessons we learn from storms is that our community and the nature around us was more of a home than any pile of bricks filled with material possessions could be. I couldn't help thinking during the storm that the people of the Bathtub also knew this, and while Beasts is a story we experienced in the movie theater, Hushpuppy's kind of fierce determination is very much alive in the residents of the flooded parishes.
Marianna Barry is the Southern US Outreacher for Beasts of the Southern Wild.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org