By Carmen Roxanna (New Orleans, LA) – What happened to the children from the roofs in New Orleans? You remember… after Katrina? New Orleans native and emerging documentary director Edward Buckles Jr. went on the arduous and equally painful pursuit of tracking down and reuniting many of the city’s uprooted youth as he shares how Hurricane Katrina has affected the young people of New Orleans since 2005.
Katrina’s Babies premieres August 24 on HBO and HBO Max, just shy of the 17th anniversary of the devastating hurricane. The film will feature confessional-style interviews, home movies, harrowing archival footage and candid moments from the then-children who survived the tragic storm and have begun their individual journeys to healing. Despite the time passed, a whole generation continues to struggle with the long-term effects of having their childhoods abruptly disrupted and families displaced. Buckles, who was 13 years old when Katrina devastated his community, has spent the past seven years creating a gateway for healing, strength and the renewed spirit for his city of New Orleans with his debut film.
In an interview with The Guardian, Buckles says, “I just wanted to hear the stories of my community and my peers and bring some type of change or impact… When I went into this documentary, I didn’t know that the children had never spoken about it.” The children of Katrina were left to digest their trauma in an injured and fragmented city while their families were given the responsibility of reintegrating into new communities after going through loss, displacement, and a lack of help from government authorities. Katrina Babies is a road to recovery from not just the worst hurricane in American history, but also the intergenerational traumas of being black and poor in the United States; told through emotional first-hand experiences of those who lived it not too many years ago. Buckles suggests he is against the idea that the people of New Orleans should be praised for their resiliency; as too often documentaries or fiction films about Black anguish seek emotional satisfaction in resilience. However, the concern with applauding resilience is that it does not lead to the elimination of the systems that necessitate it. “Resilience is the reason that slaves would get treated harsher and harsher based on how big they were…It’s not for you to call me resilient. It is for you to make sure that I don’t have to continue to be resilient under inhumane circumstances,” Buckles says.
Hurricane Katrina made landfall off the coast of Louisiana on August 29, 2005 as a Category 5 storm, with winds reaching speeds as high as 120 miles per hour. The storm is frequently ranked as among the deadliest and most destructive in American history because of the devastation it caused, an estimated $108 billion in property damage, displaced approximately 600,000 families and an estimated 1,800 people died as a direct result of the storm.
The official trailer for Katrina’s Babies is out now and can be viewed here: