Standing in the Need presents an intimate account of an African American family’s ordeal after Hurricane Katrina. Before the storm struck, this family of one hundred fifty members lived in the bayou communities of St. Bernard Parish just outside New Orleans. Rooted there like the wild red iris of the coastal wetlands, the family had gathered for generations to cook and share homemade seafood meals, savor conversation, and refresh their interconnected lives.
In this lively narrative, Katherine Browne weaves together voices and experiences from eight years of post-Katrina research. Her story documents the heartbreaking struggles to remake life after everyone in the family faced ruin. Cast against a recovery landscape managed by outsiders, the efforts of family members to help themselves could get no traction; outsiders undermined any sense of their control over the process. In the end, the insights of the story offer hope. Written for a broad audience and supported by an array of photographs and graphics, Standing in the Need offers readers an inside view of life at its most vulnerable.
Standing in the Need is part of the Katrina Bookshelf series, edited by Kai Erikson and published by the University of Texas Press. The series is a result of an SSRC-sponsored national effort to bring experts together in a collaborative program of research on the human costs of Hurricane Katrina.