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The Graffiti of Disaster

November 3, 2005

Via Charles & Ed, a great article on the “graffiti of disaster” in post-Katrina New Orleans:

A can of spray paint was a crucial tool for New Orleans rescue teams marking buildings in the search for survivors after Hurricane Katrina. Seven weeks later, the homespun graffiti is spelling out another kind of message.
“FEMA, where y’at?” reads the writing on a toppled column in the median of a deserted street in St. Bernard Parish, where residents remain bitter about the slow federal response to the flooding and winds that flattened homes and flipped cars.
In the storm-devastated neighborhoods of New Orleans, the DayGlo letters have transformed from emergency markings to a means of subversive commentary on the slow-paced recovery….
In the poor, mostly black Lower Ninth Ward, an abandoned fishing boat has drawn a new name in mocking honor of the former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael Brown. “SS Brown,” the bow reads in bright orange letters.
Foul-smelling refrigerators, which line the streets of the French Quarter and the Garden District awaiting pickup, have become a public canvas. One on Royal Street has an obscenity directed at Vice President Dick Cheney. Another says: “Please send to George W. Bush.”

Full article here. The messages described run the gamut from outrage to wry humor, expressing the emotional range of a city in grief and shock.
Image at top from nolacat‘s flickr photostream.


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