Podcast Review: Floodlines

Hey, everybody! For this week’s podcast review, I explored the Floodlines series. The host of the podcast is Vann R. Newkirk II. It is about the experiences of people who lived in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina stuck the city in 2005. Initially considered a  bad hurricane, Katrina became a life-altering catastrophe for those that lived there. Newkirk also presents discussions about the differences in coverage of the disaster in the news, when compared to the reality of the situation on the ground. 

One of the most interesting aspects of Floodlines are the interviews with New Orleans residents who survived the hurricane. These survivor interviews include Le-Ann Williams, at the time a 14 year-old “tomboy” living on Dumaine Street; Alice Craft-Kerney, a nurse at Charity Hospital; Fred Johnson, co-founder of Black Men of Labor; and Garland Robinette, a broadcaster at WWL, a local radio station. Those interviewed come from many different backgrounds, and share their memories of Hurricane Katrina. The listener gets to know them in the series, and feels their pain when they describe their hardships. The intimate narrations in Floodlines make it a gripping and heartfelt podcast.

Floodlines covers many of the reasons that Hurricane Katrina was so devastating to the people of New Orleans.  Listeners get a detailed analysis about why Hurricane Katrina was so catastrophic; the description of the levees breaking was particularly moving. When Hurricane Katrina initially struck, windows were shattered, houses flooded, and roofs blown off. This was serious destruction, but in line with forecast predictions. The situation changed drastically when the levees broke, causing millions of gallons of water to flood the city. This was described as water practically swallowing parts of New Orleans. Those who did not drown, were stranded on the top stories of buildings with no food or water. As thousands of people evacuated and were brought to the Superdome, there were not enough resources available to assist them all. Newkirk does an excellent job of showing how the conditions spiraled out of control in New Orleans on an hour-to-hour basis.       

Floodlines contrasts the narrations those interviewed, with how certain news outlets reported on Katrina’s aftermath in New Orleans. These outlets circulated misleading stories that described murders, rapes, and gangs of killers roaming the streets. The survivors speak about these false perceptions being a result of racist beliefs, and how hurtful these reports were to those merely trying to survive. This makes listening to Floodlines so important. 

I recommend listening to Floodlines to gain a better understanding of Hurricane Katrina and those who lived through it. The broad range of perspectives compel the audience to find out what happened next. Newkirk draws listeners into the series and maintains attention for all eight episodes.


The books below are recommended by Van R. Newkirk II for further reading. They can be placed on hold and picked up that the Yonkers Public Library.