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February 24, 2006

Searching for Process in the Midst of Catastrophe: Case-in-Point - Hurricane Katrina

Katrina. A name many will likely never forget, no matter how much they'd like to.

The damage she caused was absolutely devastating, her aftereffects heartbreaking and the embarrassing bureaucratic response to her a national tragedy. These points are not the subject for this post. Instead, I ask you to consider the subject of "process" on the subject of this catastrophe.

On the surface, process is only a word, like procedure, that we use everyday in a rather benign way. In theoretical terms, it is nothing more than a signifier that signifies "an action, or a series of actions or events, progress [or] course" (OED). The process of getting from here to there, from this state of affairs to that. As a verb, we "process" our feelings about things and even process our food. As writers, can we . . .

. . . analyze the processes inherent in a misfortunate event brought about by the forces of nature?

Today, I shared with you a historical record of the calamity now infamously known as Hurricane Katrina. It wasn’t the first hurricane to devastate the place of my birth, the Gulf Coast, nor will it be the last. But something unique definitely made this one different from the previous ones.

We should be able to find a process in almost anything if we look deep enough. I’d like you to do just that and decide what processes are present in the subject matter of the Hurricane Katrina DVD by independent filmmaker Creighton Hobbs, a witness and survivor. His emotion-driven slide-show puts his audience in the role of spectator to an event that destroyed the lives caused indescribable suffering of so many. If you’ve seen this presentation or similar such compilations, please consider the following items:

1. Are there any processes and procedures we can connect to this film?
2. What kind of processes are present in the subject matter?
3. Why would identifying processes or procedures be important for a series of events such as these?
4. What kind of processes would you suppose are present in:

a) The event itself.
b) The material aftermath.
c) The emotional aftermath.
d) The making of the film.
e) The audience reaction.
f) Other.

Please leave your responses in the comment box below.


*Read more English-Blog Film Reviews HERE!

Posted by lhobbs at February 24, 2006 12:13 PM

Readers' Comments:

i understand that hurricane katrina destroy my hometown i was crush. i am was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. the fact that my hometown is nomore my heart is crush.

Posted by: Robert Bell-Sheppard at February 24, 2006 01:47 PM

Hurricane Katrina, was a hurricane that just didn't affect one state it affected three states at the end of the hurricane. It affected Mississippi, Alabama, and New Orleans. The whole event didn't only affect one family it affected thousands of individual families and businesses. This movie showed pictures of the aftermath of the disaster. The aftermath was horrific. The pictures brought tears to my eyes the helpless families are left with nothing. Each of the individuals were on the same level no matter how rich or poor the individuals are. They see each other through the same eyes. They are even both left with nothing. There both left with having to start over. The aftermath of what happened caused very, very distinct emotional behaviors. There behaviors kept changing. Each individual person went through this process in different amount of time no but they pretty much go through the same stages. The first stage is denial. They will begin to deny that the whole event even happened. They keep telling themselves that it is only a dream. That they will wake up and everything will be normal. They begin to see that it is not a dream. The next emotion they will go through is the realization stage. They begin to realize that this is a reality. There are many stages in the realization stage. They will go through anger. They will become angry at anyone or anything that gets in there way. Rage will be the next step they will begin to break anything in site. Then there will be becoming upset by crying over what they just went through and what they saw. Then depression will become the next step and thats is when they will be down for a long time. Nothing anyone said or could do could snap them out of this stage. You just have to let it run its course. Once the depression stage is over you are on your final stage. This stage is acceptance you will begin to accept what happened an you will begin to try to get back on your feet. You will begin to try to find out some positive things to keep your hopes up. This is when you start begin to rebuild your life and you came to except that you are lucky to be alive. This is what I got from this film. There was a lot of destruction, pain, injury, death, hunger, homelessness, sickness, and a lot of aching hearts that are trying to figure out what to do next and were to go.

Posted by: Jennifer G at February 24, 2006 04:35 PM

Dear Professor Hobbs,

The film on Hurricane Katrina was a very insightful. I am a type of person that if I can't really see something first hand or have some thing to relate to it, the event doesn't really have an affect on me. Seeing that film showed me things I hadn't seen before.

Being expose to the events and the aftermath I can gather an idea of the Hurricane process. Some other processes that I can depict are some of the things that people had to endure in the rebuilding.

Some of the things that some middle class familes had to go through are things I myself been through. Seeing an event like that I already knowing the struggles, hurts to imagine going through something like that. Being able to have feelings like that are a first for an event like this, that I haven't myself experienced.

Posted by: P.Beckles at February 26, 2006 03:26 PM

Professor Hobbs

Losing everything is hard to deal with. Everyone not just in those states that were hit has been affected. The process of dealing with it is a whole other story. Some chose not to go back to the life they once lived, while others do not want to let it go. Seeing those films has made such an impact, not just for me, but for the others that see it and even those who created them. For those who created the films they were sending a message.

Those who created those films will always have proof that in one point in time their lives were torn apart. The one thing I took from these films was that they may each show the same images, but each film conveys a different message. One film in the end may show that all these people survived such a horrible time, while another may say that so many were lost and so many are still missing.

It is often difficult to look at the films and not feel any kind of compassion and sorrow. One thing that really affects me from the whole tragedy is that many people that were lost during the storm will never be found again. The ones that lost everything have a long road ahead of them. Not just physically rebuilding their lives, but they also have to emotionally rebuild their lives. For many creating those films or even just looking at them has become a stepping stone in their path to recovery.

Kelly J

Posted by: Kelly J at February 27, 2006 09:10 AM

Professor Hobbs,

After viewing the film I had a slightly different view of it than others because I had been down there to help with the relief effort and had made a film of my own about it. I thought it was kind of ironic that out of all the ways to make a film about something we both happened to pick the same approach. I used pictures and mellow music in my film as well. I had taken some video while we were down there, but it was very shaky and we didn’t take much at all so I just took stills from the live video and put them all in the film I made. Then I set it to music. I had a slightly different style of editing though because I did a little more professional job than this person did, but I think through his inexperience in editing he was able to portray a more accurate account of what went on. I completely understand why he chose to put it together the way he did because exactly what you see in the pictures and what you hear from the music is the emotion you feel when you are down there. I also wasn’t surprised by the class’s reaction to the video because when you see something like that you go into speechless shock. I did a video on my trip to Honduras and I get the same reaction from the audience sometimes. They just sit and stare at you and only a select few ask questions, but after a while more and more come up with questions. I’m no psychology major, but I’m sure there is a way to explain this phenomenon. As a video editor you feel like you hare really accomplished something when you are able to pull emotion form and audience like this. I guess it’s the realization of their own absent-mindedness of the world around them.

Sam Hakes

Posted by: Sam H. at February 27, 2006 12:13 PM

Professor Hobbs,

The pictures that we saw on Hurricane Katrina were extremely upsetting. I cannot imagine that happening to me. I feel terrible for the victims and all of the processes they have had to and will have to endure. There was the initial process of evacuating their homes, and making sure that their pets and chlidren were safe. Then, the process of finding somewhere to stay until they were able to go home and begin the process of cleaning up, not only their material possessions, but getting their lives back together. I am very grateful that my home was not destroyed by this hurricane, but I realize that it could happen to anyone, and I feel awful for those persons it did happen to.

Kelsey L.

Posted by: Kelsey L. at February 27, 2006 12:20 PM

Professor Hobbs

Hurricane Katrina was a devastating event that tore apart so many people’s lives in such a short amount of time. The hurricane took away people’s homes, belongings, and many lives. This natural disaster caused many long and tough processes for the whole country. The land needs to be cleaned up and rebuilt. Those are processes that are coming along very slowly.

It has been almost a year since Katrina hit and the areas that got hit are still a mess. There is not much cleaning up happening right now. You can drive for miles in some of these places and not see a single clean up crew. There is garbage and remains of broken lives everywhere. This is a process that is coming along too slowly.

Because there is not much clean up, there is very little rebuilding. People are still living in temporary homes far from what they call home. It is sad to know that a big part of our country is living like this, and has been for so long. I know the people who are living this are going through an emotional process. They have had to deal with losing so much. They have to make themselves go on everyday and deal with what their lives have become. They will continue this emotional process.

There is a continuing process of helping out. Many people are giving their time by going to the places where Katrina hit. Others donate food and money to help people get by. This is one important process that needs to continue and not fade out.

C. Robinson

Posted by: Cathy at February 27, 2006 01:40 PM

Professor Hobbs

Hurricane Katrina devastated the entire nation. No one knew how bad this disaster would be until it came and went. Everything was destroyed, and people were left stranded in what used to be their neighborhoods. You can only imagine the displacement of the people in the movie. The evacuation process was a disaster in itself. People ignored the warnings to evacuate and many people died because of this. Who did survive were in shock, starving, and had no where to go. The government took too long trying to decided where to house the evacuees and they were beginning to grow restless. People were dying from poor conditions and starvation. The Super dome was destroyed by the amount of people it was trying to house: toilets overflowed and people were beginning to riot. Finally, another decision was made to move the evacuees in buses, but the buses never showed. The people were growing desperate and angry; to the point of shooting at the planes there to help them. The buses did come, days later, and the death quota grew until then. The evacuees were transferred to rescue stations built for them. Many people lost their family in the process, crossing their fingers that they are just placed somewhere else and not dead. I hope the U.S. learned a lesson from this disaster, if it happens again, maybe they will be more prepared.

Samantha V.

Posted by: samantha v. at February 27, 2006 01:43 PM

Professor Hobbs,

There are alot of processes that connect with this film. The storm itself is a process for it to form, devastate, and then clear. The people had to go through preparation for the storm. Some had to leave their homes and move as far as Texas to get away. Then all they could do was sit and listen to what happened to all of their homes. The next step for them was to go back and see the damage done to their houses. After this the rebuilding process comes into effect.

Establishing processes by their importance level would help people with the more important issues. The process of getting people back to their homes and rebuilding is the main importance now that the storm is gone. The material aftermath of losing everything they had. The emotional aftermath would be having to deal with any losses to the family. The process would include denial, sadness, anger and then acceptance of the depth.

Thoryn S.

Posted by: Thoryn S. at February 27, 2006 04:04 PM

Monday, February 27th 6:00-7:30PM (HUB Ohio Room) Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Presented by: IUP Student Panel

Hurricane Katrina was one of the most devastating hurricanes to hit the United States. It left the Gulf Coast region of our country in a state of national disaster. Join a panel of IUP students who will share their experiences of participating in the Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort.

Co-sponsored by Department of Military Science

Diana L. Falco, M.S.
6:00 Series Coordinator
Health AWAREness
Center for Student Life
106 Pratt Hall
Indiana, PA 15705

Posted by: Diana at February 27, 2006 08:18 PM

Professor Hobbs,

The movie about Hurricane Katrina really touched me. I watch the news quite a lot and am familiar with the story but for some reason watching this point of view had a very different effect on me. On the news they only show aerial or very brief photos of the damage. But in this film we were up close and personal. From the theme music to the slow progression from house to house and tragedy to tragedy I went through a plethora of emotions. I first thought about how much I take for granted everyday such as being able to go to school, shop at the mall, having a clean comfortable place to rest my head. I was kind of angry at myself because I know I don’t appreciate everything that I have everyday. Then I began to put myself in every victim’s shoes. How would I feel if I lost my entire home and way of life all in one day? My emotions were all stirred up and I wasn’t sure exactly how to feel. I began to feel helpless and powerless because I want to be able to help every single person on a personal level and I know that is nearly impossible. I didn’t realize it until after the film was over but I had went through an emotional process that I did not enjoy.

Adrianne E

Posted by: Adrianne E at February 27, 2006 11:07 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Process is a part of every day life. Life in itself is a process. In watching the video on Hurricane Katrina’s horrific destruction, many processes can be identified, on a surface level as well as a deeper level.

The surface level processes are that of rebuilding and recuperating. When Katrina hit land, its effects were devastating. Houses were ripped from their foundations, businesses were completely destroyed, and many lives were taken. For the many months after this tragic event, funds were gathered from people all around the country as well as the world.

These funds were meant to help in the reconstruction of homes and business establishments as well as help support those who were affected by the hurricane. Rebuilding each town had its’ own process, as well as the recuperation that the people involved had to go through.

Another process was the making of the video. Not only did the maker have to gather all of the visual aspects of the video, but also the choices of songs put with each set of videos/photographs had to be carefully thought out in order to put the audience in a certain mood. With the right songs, the maker was able to connect the audience with the victims, as well as give them a certain feeling. In this case, the feeling was sadness.

The deeper processes include the emotional aspects of the event. The victims were basically forced to leave the homes that they worked so hard to obtain and manage. They had to endure the process of waiting out the hurricane, as well as the process of dealing with the outcome of it on a mental level.

As said before, life in itself is a process and, sadly, Katrina was just another process in life which had to be endured. Its effects will never be forgotten as so many people scrape together what they need in order to get their lives back together. This, too, is yet another process they must endure. Healing is also a process, and once those affected go through its’ entire process, they will come out with a better sense of life and living and respect that life is achieved through a set of processes.

Missy Z.

Posted by: Missy Z at February 28, 2006 08:55 PM

Professor Hobbs,

The movie you showed in class touched me. I saw the news footage showed about the hurricane. I heard reporters go on about how devistating this storm was. I heard people around me praying for those caught up in this disaster. Despite all this going on around me, I didn't know how to feel. I had no relation down there. No one I knew or loved was caught up in this, or going down to help. I thought I was in no way tied by this storm, save for high gas prices. But I was wrong. They were people, and despite us having no shared blood, they were like me. They could be hurt as I could, and they had. They could loose everything as I could, and they had. I realized I was looking in a distored mirror, one that showed me in a different view. What if I had lived down there. What if I was the one on the news floating on a boat with my family, looking back at our demolished home. I then realized all that I had and all that I did not loose and I was immedatly grateful, and guilty. They will have to go through the process of starting their lives over. They had gone through a hideous emotional process, loosing their family, homes, possesions. And they will experience the process of horrible memories and nightmares, and try to overcome and forget them. It was then that I realized that I do not wish to experience all the processes life has to offer.

Rachael T.

Posted by: Rachael T at February 28, 2006 09:34 PM

Professor Hobbs,

The processes in the film on Hurricane Katrina are quite obvious. In the beginning, residents heard that the hurricane was on its way. Then they were forced to just sit back and wait for it to come and disrupt everything that they know. As if that was not hard enough, they then had to go back to their towns and see that all of their possessions that had been destroyed while praying that nothing happened to one of their loved ones. Now they are left with nothing but fragments of things they used to have and all the time in the world to put their lives back together.

The choice of songs they used throughout the film made it even more emotional that it was to begin with. For instance, “Times Like These” can be interpreted as when the people began to learn what really matter when tragedy strikes. Each song expressed a different sense of loss yet the ending of all the songs seemed to come to a high point, like things are getting better in the end.

Hopefully by making this movie, it made people realize that there is still so much work that needs to be done. I have seen different things on television about the hurricane, but I never realized the grief and devastation that must be taking place. I would go down there, even for a week, and help out. With any luck, other audiences will feel the same way.

Angela H.

Posted by: Angela H. at March 29, 2006 01:11 AM

Dear Professor Hobbs,

After watching the Hurricane Katrina video, I began to think about the processes involved with the creation of the film. I thought about how the producer used music to generate an emotion. The process of editing also came across my mind during the course of the video. Just by watching the video I could tell that there was a lot of work involved in the making of this video.

Although I do not know a lot about editing and filmmaking, I knew that the producer put a lot of time into the project. First the producer had to take lots of video on various sites of destruction. For thirty minutes of video, the producer probably used three or four hours worth of film. Next, the producer probably decided what songs to use in the film, and how long they would be played. After the music and slides were selected, the producer most likely watched what was there so far. An audience may have been introduced to give reactions and thoughts. After comments were given, the producer probably went back to do some more editing and finishing. The combination of music, videos, and pictures gave the producer a final product. These are just a few of the basics that it probably took to complete the video. I know that there are a lot of intermediate steps required to make a film, and they all contribute to the finished product.

The producer blended music, video, and pictures to create a brilliant masterpiece. Although there were no dialogues in the video, the producer still managed to create emotions in the audience. I felt disgust and sorrow while I watched the film. I think the events that took place during Hurricane Katrina were terrible and we need to come together to aid the victims. The hurricane was not only damaged things in its path; it also damaged things in a wide range. This is the case with the victims also. Not only were the victims hurt, but their family and friends were also.

Kashiff M.

Posted by: Kashiff M. at April 18, 2006 10:08 PM

Note from Lee:

Due to the overwhelming response (and length) of these remarks about Creighton's documentary of Hurricane Katrina, I've decided to end the commentary for this particular entry. However, you may read (and comment on) the "sequel" to this blog entry and its ensuing commentary HERE! See how students tied in the themes from this real life tragedy to the underlying ideas in other films.

See you over there!

Posted by: Lee Hobbs at April 19, 2006 10:56 AM

These blogs cite the entry, "Searching for Process in the Midst of Catastrophe: Case-in-Point - Hurricane Katrina." :

» "Katrina and Popular Film: New Ways to Read Into the Horrific Aftermath" from: [The] English-Blog [.com]
The independent film about Hurricane Katrina, by filmmaker Creighton Hobbs, got such an overwhelming amout of remarks (read them at THIS ENTRY) I came to the conclusion that some of the more lengthy (and thought out) ones deserved a blog entry of their... [Read More]

Tracked on April 19, 2006 10:19 AM

» "Revisiting and Reflecting Upon a Time before Katrina: Photo: 'Old Bicycle in Old New Orleans'" from: [The] English-Blog [.com]
Two years before the catastrophic floods of Hurricane Katrina brought the "Big Easy" to its knees, this antique bicycle stands testimony to the thriving business of the Old French Quarter . . . [Read More]

Tracked on April 25, 2006 12:07 PM

» "Katrina and Popular Film: New Ways to Read Into the Horrific Aftermath" from: [The] English-Blog [.com]
The independent film about Hurricane Katrina, by filmmaker Creighton Hobbs, got such an overwhelming amout of remarks (read them at THIS ENTRY) I came to the conclusion that some of the more lengthy (and thought out) ones deserved a blog entry of their... [Read More]

Tracked on April 25, 2006 12:18 PM

» "Responding to Tragedy in the English Classroom" from: ESL School
With regards to what material should be brought into the classroom, how should we respond in our professional role to the terrible events that are making life sheer hell for the people caught up in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? I think it is unn... [Read More]

Tracked on April 25, 2006 12:39 PM

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