Refuge of Last Resort - The true Hurricane Katrina Story [Import] Used DVD


Refuge of Last Resort - The true Hurricane Katrina Story [Import] Used DVD

Hurricane Katrina: Refuge of Last Resort is a very personal look at the chaos that ensued in New Orleans in the aftermath of the 2005 mega-storm. It would certainly seem to accurately reflect the colossal failure of local, state, and federal governments to respond to the crisis in anything approaching an acceptable manner, offering many a poignant moment along the way. It also shows how some New Orleans residents failed to take the hurricane seriously, as we see that Bourbon Street was not exactly closed for business even as the rain and wind of the storm arrived in the city. James L. Bills was one of many people who did not evacuate the city (he says the mayor's warning came too late, as if you need a public official to tell you the mother of all storms is heading right for you). Instead, he holed up with his family in one of the larger hotels in town. What we see in this personal documentary is the state of affairs in New Orleans over the next few days, as he wandered around the city with video camera in hand. This is all private footage that has not been seen elsewhere.

I was surprised at how little footage there was of the sights and sounds of the hurricane itself, but Bills' camera shows us scene after scene of devastation in the hours and days afterward. We can see a noticeable police presence in the immediate aftermath that disappears long before the National Guard finally rolls in on Day 4. By far the most powerful images, though, are those of hundreds if not thousands of people waiting in disorganized lines for hours and hours outside the trash-riddled Superdome and elsewhere - waiting for long-delayed buses that would take them who knows where for who knows how long. Even as the rescue mission starts up in earnest, saving victims from rooftops and attics, untold numbers of people wait in dire conditions in and around the very airport serving as the staging ground for those rescue efforts. Just in case anyone doubts the inefficiency and unprepared nature of government relief efforts, Bills films truckloads of portable toilets being delivered in and around the convention center - several hours after the place had finally been evacuated.

The images speak for themselves, but the video also includes a number of ordinary citizens recounting the ordeals they went through just to find food and water in the increasingly lawless days preceding the arrival of outside help, the suffering they endured standing in line for hours with little or no information after that help arrived, and the sights of human suffering and misery they witnessed, particularly among the young and elderly, in the unbearably hot and humid conditions.

As poignant a story as this video tells, though, one must keep in mind that it is not an objective look at the whole situation. I'm not discounting the great toll of personal tragedy that ensued in New Orleans following Katrina, but I must say that a number of the comments from Bills as well as those interviewed are not necessarily true. We hear a lot of the rumors and hearsay that fueled the media's shamefully sensationalistic coverage of the tragedy. There is no denying, though, that Bills' film offers viewers a small taste of the misery the poor people of New Orleans needlessly suffered at the hands of FEMA and other ineptly run government agencies who clearly failed them and all of America.

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