As Harvey Hits, Looking Back at New Orleans

Death, Sex & Money

By WNYC Studios

As Harvey Hits, Looking Back at New Orleans

Wednesday, 30 August

We changed our plans for Death, Sex & Money this week as we watched the storm known as Harvey pummel the Gulf Coast. It's made us think about the conversations we had in New Orleans two years ago, for a series about life there around the tenth anniversary of Katrina.

In those episodes, we profiled five people and heard in detail about how their lives were forever changed by a few days of rain, wind, and catastrophic floods. We also heard about their collective trauma of having the home they knew suddenly under water, and about the very long process of rebuilding. You can find that entire series here.

One of the people we interviewed, Dr. Kiersta Kurtz-Burke, is heading to Texas this week to volunteer with a medical team. When Katrina hit New Orleans, she didn’t evacuate. Instead she stayed inside New Orleans’ Charity Hospital, where she worked for six days, caring for 18 patients on the 5th floor. There was no power, and it seemed like no one was coming to rescue them. Before they were finally evacuated, Kiersta—who was part of the last group of people to leave—helped clean up the space for when her staff returned. "We didn't want it to look messy," she remembers. "We were naive." 

Charity Hospital never re-opened after they left, but Kiersta returned to New Orleans after being evacuated. After a long rebuilding process, she still lives there today, and is raising her family there. "We just got too weird for any place else other than New Orleans," she laughs. 

We compiled a list of organizations that need your help after Harvey. Find it here: How to Help After Harvey

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