Tavis: I hope you’ll join us in primetime here on PBS Wednesday, July 21, for our next installment of Tavis Smiley Reports. This episode focuses on New Orleans as we approach the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Along with Oscar-winning filmmaker, Jonathan Demme, we traveled to the Crescent City for an in-depth look at life there as residents continue the long and often difficult road to recovery. This one-hour special is called Been in the Storm Too Long.
Among the many people we met during our time there was a former tax accountant named Robert Green As he and his family try to get their lives back together, the memories of August 2005 remain vivid and painful.
Robert Green: These are the back steps to our house. This is all that we had –
Tavis: – oh, these are the back steps. This is all that was left to the house.
Green: All that was left to the house. But we put them up here because we wanted to show what we had and where we are now. And for us, it was really important to sort of keep what we could as a memento for my mother because my mother made sure that her children, when we moved down here, had a place to stay.
My mother made sure that we needed nothing that she couldn’t provide and she raised us in such a way that she put two sons through college. But these are actually all that we have left of the old house.
Tavis: So this is a memento.
Green: Yeah, yeah.
Tavis: So when the floodwaters came, what happened to the house?
Green: We basically had five minutes to get from inside of the house, five minutes later to get onto the roof. And when we got onto the roof, the house on the left side hit our house, the house on the right side hit our house and actually pushed us into the street and the current actually took our house away. Where we’re standing right now was basically under water. We had 25 feet of water, water higher than the top of that flagpole.
I’ll talk about the fact that, in the morning, you’re woken up by the trucks, in the morning, you’re woken up by the workers, you’re woken up by the hammering, you’re woken up by those things, but what that means is families that are coming back. So that’s the noise of progress, that’s the noise of hoping and that’s the noise of our prayers being answered.
Tavis: I like that. The noise of progress, the noise of hope and the noise of our prayers being answered.
Others taking part in this special report include musicians Lenny Kravitz, Branford Marsalis and Allen Toussaint, plus from the acclaimed HBO drama, Treme, actors John Goodman and Wendell Pierce. Tavis Smiley Reports, Been in the Storm Too Long premiers right here on most of these PBS stations Wednesday, July 21 at 8 p.m., 7 Central.
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