Five years after Hurricane Katrina reduced much of the city of New Orleans to rubble and drove thousands of people from their homes, photojournalist Mario Tama has put all the photos he took of the storm and its aftermath into a new book. He says that the resilience of New Orleans' residents shines through in his photographs, even as they fled their flooded homes and streets.
Tama, is a photojournalist for Getty Images, says he was especially moved by an elderly couple who refused to leave their home as the flood waters rose. They haven't left since the storm and are rebuilding their livelihoods piece by piece.
Tama also photographed several "second lines," or traditional New Orleans street parades, many of which took place against the backdrop of flooded homes. The first few parades he photographed immediately after the hurricane just had a few hundred participants, but as residents began to return to the city, the parades grew to include several thousand people.
"On the fifth-year anniversary of Katrina, I'm hopeful for the city of New Orleans. A lot of the city has been rebuilt. However, they've got a very long way to go. The levees still don't provide a proper defense. There's still a lot of the people that have been displaced, especially a lot of the poorer residents, who simply can't afford to come back." - Mario Tama, photographer
"The people, the resilience of this city has been something that's been incredibly inspirational to me. I've seen people with absolutely nothing and people with their homes wiped away, and they just were so incredibly determined to come back to their home, to come back to their roots." - Mario Tama, photographer
1. Where is New Orleans?
2. What happened as a result of Hurricane Katrina?
3. What is photojournalism?
1. What do you think Tama means when he says New Orleans has taught him about community? What does community mean to you? Do you feel a sense of community where you live?
2. What does "resilience" mean? Give an example of extraordinary human resilience that you've witnessed, either among your friends and family or in the news.
3. Which photo or photos in this essay spoke to you the most? Why? What do you take from it?
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