Carl Lindahl is a professor of English and folklore at the University of Houston and author of Cajun Mardi Gras Masks and Swapping Stories: Folktales from Louisiana.
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Second Line Rescue: Improvised Responses to Katrina and Rita
How beleaguered citizens created their own salvation when their institutions failed
Contributions from François Ancelet, Josef Brown, Charles A. Darensbourg, Mike Davis, Jocelyn H. Donlon, Jon G. Donlon, Nicole Eugene, Anthony Fontenot, Ernest J. Gaines, Glenda Harris, Sidney Harris, Chantell Jones, Robert LeBlanc, Glen Miguez, Shari L. Smothers, Dave Spizale, Angela Trahan and Vincent Trotter
Second Line Rescue: Improvised Responses to Katrina and Rita chronicles the brave and creative acts Gulf Coast people used to rescue their neighbors during the chaotic aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Ordinary residents joined in with whatever resources they had. Unlike many of the official responders, vernacular rescuers found ways around the paralysis. They were able to dispel unfounded fears produced by erroneous or questionable reporting. The essays, personal narratives, media reports and field studies presented here all have to do with effective and often ingenious answers that emerged from the people themselves.
The first part of the collection deals with Gulf Coast rescuers from outside stricken communities — those who, safe in their own homes and neighborhoods, marshaled their resources to help their fellow residents. The second part features the words of hurricane survivors displaced from New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities to Houston. In many cases, the victims themselves were the first responders, rescuing family, friends and strangers. All of the stories, whether from outsider or insider responders, reveal a shared history of close-knit community bonds, survival skills sharpened by hard times and what went right in the aftermath of Katrina and Rita — in spite of all that went so wrong.
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