The A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge website on SMITH was down for a while, but recent events with hurricanes Harvey & Irma made it imperative to get it working again—and so it is: smithmag.net/afterthedeluge. This terrible 2017 hurricane season obviously brings back memories of 2005 (and for older folks, previous big hurricanes that hit big cities). As I wrote in the book’s afterword, the stories in A.D. are highly specific yet somehow universal, and over the years I have found in my discussions about A.D. that the experiences of the real-life characters therein resonated strongly with other hurricane survivors in so many ways. People told me this over and over as I traveled around promoting the A.D. book—in New Orleans (of course), in Houston, in Miami, and even in New York City. By connecting to the stories of Denise, Leo, Michelle, Hamid, Mansell, Kwame, and the Doctor, people gained comfort—and context—for their own experiences.
Watching Harvey and Irma, the cycle feels so similar: tracking the storm, deciding whether or not to evacuate, dealing with the wind damage and flooding, confronting loss—of people, possessions, community—and the long rebuilding process. These are the perennial issues brought on by these epic man-vs.-nature events…
The New York Times‘ coverage of the storms has been particularly good, and these stories reminded me so strongly of specific moments from A.D.:
“Irma Shifting Forecasts: It’s All a Matter of Probability” evokes “Should I Stay…”
The Daily story, “How Houston Was Built to Flood” evokes the Prologue, Part II—“The Storm”
“Thousands Cried for Help as Houston Flooded” evokes Chapter 6—“Flotsam & Jetsam”
“After Harvey, a Return Home in High Water” evokes Chapter 8—“The Bowl Effect, Part II”
The Daily 360 piece “On Submerged Streets: ‘Houston Has Come Together'” evokes Chapter 10—“Something in the Water”
The photo essay “What They Saved: Texans Reflect on Treasures Plucked From Harvey” evokes the epilogue, “Picking Up the Pieces”
… as does “We Lived Through a Flood. Now We Have a Very Long To-Do List.”
Part of the A.D. experience on SMITH was the links embedded within certain panels that extended the story in various ways: to hurricane resources, YouTube videos, audio clips of the various characters. As part of resurrecting the A.D. site, I also updated all those links, which to my mind all remain relevant for these storms 12 years later. My hope—as it always was—is that the stories of the various real-life people from A.D. continue to give solace and understanding to this new generation of hurricane watchers and survivors.
Stay strong, Texas. Stay strong, Florida.