In time to mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Pounds makes her debut with a vivid memoir that will have readers feeling like they’re sloshing through the muck and debris along with her and other evacuees.
Twenty-nine-year-old Pounds had the wherewithal—and, critically, a car, albeit an old one—to get out before the storm hit. She packed the car with her three dogs and a few supplies to ride out Katrina at her friends’ house in Baton Rouge. She expected to return in a few days. But it would be almost two months before residents were allowed back into New Orleans, the city she adopted as home only two years before the disaster. Born and raised in Mississippi, Pounds figured she had already gone through the worst things she would ever face in life: the death of her father when she was 24, then her mother when she was 27. She had moved on, selling her childhood home, buying one in New Orleans, and landing a full-time position as a college English teacher. But during the exodus that took her from Baton Rouge to Texas, then to Florida, camping out in the houses of a plethora of friends, she found herself coping not only with storm-related trauma, but with the profound sense of pain over the loss of her parents that she thought she had successfully tucked away. Pounds excels at portraying the small day-to-day events that defined her existence during the exile and after the return: the lost homes (fortunately, hers survived intact), Humvees patrolling the streets of New Orleans, helicopters overhead, dead animals in the debris, as well as the remarkable determination to salvage homes destroyed by floor-to-ceiling water. Friends became family, strangers became friends. Her memoir is simultaneously an intensely personal tale and homage to the survivors, to the lost victims, and to a city.
A well-constructed, in-the-moment memoir that brings home the stories behind the sensationalism.