WASHINGTON, D.C.—With two months still to go in the hurricane season, Oxfam America today released a video documenting the profound toll two of the most stunning storms in US history took on the Gulf Coast.
Narrated by actor Danny Glover, “Forgotten Communities, Unmet Promises” examines the lasting physical—and psychological—impact hurricanes Katrina and Rita had on some of the rural towns and poor urban areas of Louisiana and Mississippi.
“What disturbs me most about the situations described in this film is that more than a year after the double disaster struck, so many poor people are still swamped in a sea of need,” said Glover. “Their houses are wrecked. Their jobs are gone. And the billions of federal dollars allocated to rebuild the Gulf Coast are not reaching them. Why?”
Filmed by award winning TIME photojournalist Steve Liss, the 17-minute video explores the consequences months of neglect have had on families as they try to piece their lives back together.
“We’re all standing around looking at each other asking well, when are they going to remove these cars? When are they going to remove these houses? When are they going to remove the stuff so we can start even rebuilding?” asked the Rev. Martin Denesse in the film, frustration fueling his resolve. “I’m gonna stay here and I’m gonna fight. We’re going to do what we got to do to make sure we reclaim our home.”
Liss said he was deeply moved by the struggles he witnessed as he traveled the Gulf Coast with his cameras.
"People are living under incredible stress, yet they graciously welcomed me into their homes and allowed me to document their lives,” he said. “I feel honored that they were willing to share their pain and despair as well as their courageous resolve to rebuild their shattered lives"
Oxfam America plans to distribute the video widely among community groups, aid agencies, foundations, and universities. It also has copies available upon request.
“This video reminds us that we can’t afford to forget—not when so much is at stake,” said Oxfam America’s Minor Sinclair, director of its US regional programs. “Communities have been working so hard to rebuild, but tens of thousands of people still need our help, and they’re going to need it for a long time to come.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: In a companion piece to the video, Oxfam probed the depth of the region’s post-hurricane needs in its similarly titled report, “Forgotten Communities, Unmet Promises: An Unfolding Tragedy on the Gulf Coast.” The report is available online at www.oxfamamerica.org. Additionally, an exhibit of portraits and scenes, photographed by Liss, sheds further light on the hardships the region’s poorest residents continue to endure.
A trailer of “Forgotten Communities, Unmet Promises” is now viewable on the YouTube Web site at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtRWOjh1XF8. To order a complete copy of the video, send your request to [email protected]