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Hurricane Katrina - The Mississippi Story

Hurricane Katrina

The Mississippi Story

By James Patterson Smith
Hardcover : 9781617030239, 272 pages, 25 b&w photographs, March 2012

The definitive Mississippi account of the greatest natural disaster in American history


This book presents the fullest account yet written of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Rooted in a wealth of oral histories, it tells the dramatic but underreported story of a people who confronted the unprecedented devastation of sixty-five-thousand homes when the eye wall and powerful northeast quadrant of the hurricane swept a record thirty-foot storm surge across a seventy-five-mile stretch of unprotected Mississippi towns and cities. James Patterson Smith takes us through life and death accounts of storm day, August 29, 2005, and the precarious days of food and water shortages that followed. Along the way the narrative treats us to inspiring episodes of neighborly compassion and creative responses to the greatest natural disaster in American history.

The heroes of this saga are the local people and local officials. In often moving accounts, the book addresses the Mississippi Gulf Coast's long struggle to remove a record-setting volume of debris and get on with the rebuilding of homes, schools, jobs, and public infrastructure. Along the way readers are offered insights into the politics of recovery funding and the bureaucratic bungling and hubris that afflicted the storm response and complicated and delayed the work of recovery. Still, there are ample accounts of things done well, and a moving chapter gives us a feel for the psychological, spiritual, and material impact of the eight hundred thousand people from across the nation who gave of themselves as volunteers in the Mississippi recovery effort.


James Patterson Smith's Hurricane Katrina: The Mississippi Story is a brilliantly researched and exhaustive look at the hammering that the Magnolia State endured in 2005 by a hurricane-from-Hell. Poor Mississippi took the brunt of Katrina head-on. Communities like Waveland, Bay St. Louis, and Gulfport were destroyed. Smith now emerges as our great chronicler of the dislocation and mayhem. Highly recommended!

- Douglas Brinkley, author of The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast

In Hurricane Katrina: The Mississippi Story, James Patterson Smith explores how the massive storm of 2005 impacted coastal Mississippi. Because of the catastrophic events caused by Katrina in nearby New Orleans, the destruction wrought in south Mississippi, where the hurricane actually made landfall, has often been overlooked. In addition to recounting the depth of the natural disaster in Mississippi, Smith illustrates how South Mississippians persevered to rebuild their communities and their lives in the storm's aftermath.

- Charles C. Bolton, author of The Hardest Deal of All: The Battle over School Integration in Mississippi, 1870-1980

Finally, the much needed and long-untold story of a resilient society! Professor Smith provides a compelling narrative of the triumphs of the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast over the greatest natural disaster in America's history and the bureaucratic incompetence that accompanied it. Required reading for everyone wishing to know more about the resilience inherent in the American character.

- Major General Warren C. Edwards, Executive Director of the Community and Regional Resilience Institute