Kathleen Koch's Rising from Katrina wins award

Kathie Koch’s Rising from Katrina: How My Mississippi Hometown Lost It All and Found What Mattered recently won a gold medal for best regional nonfiction in the 2011 Independent Publisher Book Awards. (H/T Sun Herald)

Kathie is a friend to this blog and her book is well worth reading. Congratulations Kathie, the honor is well deserved.


5 years later and Katrina ground zero is still the red headed step child: Katrina plus 5. So what? The same old tired song most everyone is sick of hearing.

Well, the WaPo at least put a link up to a few pics from the Mississippi Gulf Coast but little else and today’s feature story is about the trainwreck that is the post Katrina recovery in New Orleans from incompetent leadership at NOPD and from the Mayor, Ray Nagin to the outright thievery and unbridled corruption that is the Jeffersons.  The media likes train wrecks.

That said you cross the line from cognitive bias to outright ignorance when you lede a review of Kathleen Kock’s new book on Bay St Louis, When the Levees Broke: Kathleen Koch, ‘Rising from Katrina: How My Mississippi Hometown Lost It All and Found What Mattered’.  Kathie herself unwittingly explains why the national media as a whole had little interest in the Mississippi Gulf Coast as train wrecks evidently make better news:

I decided to write the book the week that we covered the storm. We were down there the entire week, from Sunday before the storm hit to the following Saturday, and I told the people at the citizens’ station in my hometown in Bay St. Louis, “I promise I’ll never let anyone forget what happened here,” and I meant that. I had already seen the media spotlight switch to focus on New Orleans, but I also saw before my eyes towns in an 80-mile stretch that looked like Armageddon. And every single story you do, there’s a lot that falls on the cutting-room floor — you accept it and you move on — but this was part of my town’s history, and it was so largely untold that I didn’t feel it was right to take stories to the grave with me. Continue reading “5 years later and Katrina ground zero is still the red headed step child: Katrina plus 5. So what? The same old tired song most everyone is sick of hearing.”

Kathleen Koch's Rising from Katrina delivers the Katrina experience

I introduced the Slabbed Nation to former CNN Whitehouse reporter Kathie Koch back in June after we renewed acquaintances as we gave her new book an advance plug along with her second CNN special on Bay-Waveland that we profiled back April 2008. The evaluation copy of the book arrived in late June and I could not put it down once I cracked it open as the 344 page narrative stirred my memories of those early post Katrina days, a time period that had a profound impact on countless lives from the disaster victims to those that came to help including my partner in blog Nowdy who was a first responder.

There are certain events that still stir the emotions of the Slabbed and Kathie covered most of them in her book.  Knowing how I reacted to reading certain passages I watched Mrs Sop as she began reading the book after I finished it.  I knew immediately when she reached the story of the Clevelands and their fight for survival during the storm as her facial expression told the story. Nikki and her husband Patrick not only were separated from each other by the storm surge but were also separated from Nikki’s parents who did not make it. And yet despite the tragedy of Nikki losing her parents, and being hosed by Nationwide while her husband Patrick battled cancer,  Kathie also conveys how the Clevelands’ story is one of hope in how they recovered from the storm even finding the strength to start a family of their own literally from the rubble. Similar themes run through the book from cover to cover as the events Kathie experienced are laid out in detail. Continue reading “Kathleen Koch's Rising from Katrina delivers the Katrina experience”

"BP and anyone else underestimates coast residents at their own peril"

…it’s not just those who ply their trade on the sea, or who house, feed or entertain tourists, who stand to lose. People live on the Gulf Coast because of the way of life there. They walk its beaches, sail and fish its waters, and daily draw mental and physical sustenance from what it offers. It is in their blood: a part of them.

Kathleen Koch,freelance journalist and author of “Rising from Katrina,” does what only someone who knows and loves the Coast can do. Koch “tells it like it is” in Gulf Coast folks will fight for their rights:

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our forefathers penned those simple words into the Declaration of Independence 234 years ago as a promise to every citizen of their fledgling country. Today, millions of Americans living along the Gulf Coast find those unalienable rights threatened.

I grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It was a place of pristine, natural beauty. Miles of soft, sandy beaches. The gentle, warm waters of the Mississippi Sound. The bays that cut inland to rivers and streams lined with grassy marshes and bayous that served as nurseries for tiny crabs, shrimp and all manner of fish and marine life.

This weekend, as the nation celebrated, the first black tar balls and foul patties from the oil spill washed up on the beaches of my hometown. Bay St. Louis was hosting its annual Crab Fest on Friday when the quarter- to fist-size globs began rolling in. My brother called to say he’d spotted some in front of the site of our former home on South Beach Boulevard. It was sickening.

The people of the Gulf Coast are a hardy bunch. They already faced the worst nature could dish out when Hurricane Katrina hit. And just as they were getting back on their feet after years of heartache and struggle, the worst man-made environmental disaster in U.S. history smacks them back down.

That is what makes this such a difficult time for my family, friends and neighbors on the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Katrina left them with a new sense of vulnerability. Its scars are deep. And they are tired to the bone.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t fight. It is a lesson BP executives or anyone else who would underestimate them ignores at their peril.
Continue reading “"BP and anyone else underestimates coast residents at their own peril"”

Kathleen Koch chronicles her Katrina experience: Rising from Katrina: How My Mississippi Hometown Lost It All and Found What Mattered

It was my pleasure to renew acquaintances with Kathleen Koch yesterday afternoon as we chatted about her upcoming book, How My Mississippi Hometown Lost It All and Found What Mattered. Kathleen is a Bay St Louis girl made good who ended up at CNN as a general assignment reporter covering aviation, the White House, Congress and the Pentagon during her 18 year run with the network. I went to school with Kathleen’s kid sister and my siblings were all around the same general age as the Koch kids so she was happily surprised to find out Sop was someone with whom she was familiar from back in the day. It was neat to catch up.

This brings us to the topic of today’s post, Kathleen’s upcoming book. Assigned by CNN to cover her hometown in the immediate aftermath of Katrina, the experience as any Slabber can attest, is life changing and such was certainly the case for Kathleen. This excerpt from the book’s press release sums it up:

As CNN correspondent Kathleen Koch covered the Katrina aftermath on the Gulf Coast, she made a promise to the hurricane victims in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The day she left, she told them, “I promise I won’t let anyone forget what happened here.” The pledge would be difficult to keep, as most Americans didn’t realize Mississippi caught the brunt of the storm. Continue reading “Kathleen Koch chronicles her Katrina experience: Rising from Katrina: How My Mississippi Hometown Lost It All and Found What Mattered”

A Trip Down Memory Lane and What Has Changed Since

I ran across the CNN Presents episode The Town that Fought Back on You Tube and watched it again. It is interesting to see what has changed, what the issues were and still are from the time it was shot in 2006 to the present.

The Oklahoma City litigation is over and State Farm’s bad behavior there has been completely revealed. We have gone from thousands of Scruggs Katrina Group suits to less than the 180 today that now must seek new lawyers with Friday’s disqualification of the Scruggs successor Katrina Litigation Group. We find that State Farm claims adjusters ordering additional engineering reports when they didn’t like the answer on the first one was not SOP per Wayne Drinkwater yet it happened a good bit. Still there is no explanation why it happened.

FEMA trailers have since given way to cottages and many more people are back in their homes though we still lack affordable housing for the working poor. Life has returned to the new post Katrina normal but things will never be the same as they were before the storm. The political fight for insurance solutions in HR 3121 had not yet begun in the Summer of 2006. How time flies….

Those wanting background on the insurance litigation will find the show interesting. Those wanting to see Dickie Scruggs talk about how long it takes for a criminal to get a day in court will find it ironic. Like the other CNN presents special hosted by Kathleen Koch Saving my town: The fight for Bay St. Louis watching The Town that Fought Back brings back memories of the past and evokes hope for the future in seeing how far we’ve come. Continue reading “A Trip Down Memory Lane and What Has Changed Since”