Voices from the Storm, Compiled by Lola Vollen and Chris Ying

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The Independent Culture

Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana on 29 August 2005, devastating New Orleans. The Bush administration's woefully inadequate response and the chaos that ensued revealed a hidden America – one of poverty and injustice. Lola Vollen and Chris Ying report that when Katrina hit New Orleans, 67 per cent of its population were African-American and 22 per cent were living below the poverty line.

Five years on, Voices from the Storm uses oral history to let those who survived the hurricane tell their (sometimes surprising) stories, of before, during and after the storm. Clinical nursing assistant Renee Martin, for example, who was rescued by boat as 80 per cent of the city languished underwater, has managed to build a new life in Houston. Despite its horrors, the hurricane gave her a way out. "I can say," she concludes, "thank God for Katrina."