NOT JUST THE LEVEES BROKE by Phyllis Montana Leblanc


My Story During and After Hurricane Katrina
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Leblanc takes no prisoners and hides few emotions in this firsthand account of her experiences during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

As the skies darkened in late August, 2005, Leblanc’s stomach was sinking: The weather forecasters were prevaricating, but “honestly, this time I have a feeling that something is about to go down in a serious-ass way.” Leblanc was both cool—“I choose to hang on to who I am: a strong, black woman”—and not so cool, letting her anxiety and rising panic permeate the story of the storm: the roof collapsing, the foul, dark water flooding in, an early death looking at her wherever she turned. Then came the days after, harrowing in their own special way—full of thirst and hunger, bone-deep exhaustion and evacuation disappointments, as well as a punishing sense of abandonment and a bitter taste of racism in action. She became one of the “FEMA people,” second-class treatment all the way. It was enough to give anyone emotional issues—the pharmacist filling anti-anxiety medications “is making serious bank off of us, and I’m guessing, the entire city of New Orleans since Katrina”—yet Leblanc is clear about what she went through, and brashly articulate: about greed, corruption, neglect and self-destructive behavior, enough so that Spike Lee featured her in his film When the Levees Broke. She also has plenty of disarming, street-smart advice for policymakers at every level about compassion, understanding, communication and resolution.

A drama of crackling immediacy and with ringing outspokenness.

Pub Date: Aug. 19th, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4165-6346-4
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Atria
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2008


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