I am from a family of first responders. It’s a weird experience to live, knowing that had we lived in other regions of the country- I would be staring down the fact that my family would probably look very different than it does today. This makes me have a very complicated relationship with disasters. They fascinate and scare me on what feels like a cellular level.
I came across Disastrous History probably about a year ago. It’s a podcast I deeply enjoy because it’s an example of great podcasting in its early days. This is a podcast that has excellent bones, and with growth could become a big one. Right now they’re at an early stage: the production quality isn’t the best, and sometimes some deliveries could have been re-recorded, but the information, writing, and passion are there. For example, I adore the baby coos that sometimes make their way through the editing, but I know others won’t. To me, finding these podcasts that touch your heart and are labors of love is as important as the studio's deep dives with all the top-of-the-line equipment. This podcast has grown and will continue to grow and I’m so excited to see where they go.
This set of episodes packs a punch. I’m glad I didn’t get them all at once to listen, and I’m glad I took my time with them. I wanted to listen because I wasn’t even ten when Hurricane Katrina hit and I feel like it’s an important historical moment to learn about. I think someone knows themselves enough to stay away from a podcast like Disastrous History when they need to, but I do have to say the third episode of this series could be given space for the most sensitive of listeners. Honestly, I don’t listen to every single episode of this podcast. I pick and choose based on what sounds interesting to me.
As we are around the 17th anniversary of this tragedy, I felt like it was a great opportunity for me to learn about something I only vaguely remember. Anthony starts the journey doing a deep dive into what causes hurricanes to form, which on some level was my favorite part. I don’t know much about hurricanes, having had a side eye on tornado-like weather for the majority of my life (that is, tornados are possibly my greatest fear). Having the understanding of what made hurricane Katrina such an event provided an excellent base for the rest of the series. It is well explained for the average person and only gets confusing a few times because math is hard.
The series transitions from the background of a hurricane, to what happened in the hardest hit areas. It wasn't New Orleans, like we always talk about. Yeah, NOLA was hit extremely hard: but Biloxi and the surrounding areas got the actual worst of the direct storm.
The reality is we won’t ever know specific statistics for certain. We won’t know how high the waters got for sure, we won’t know how many people actually lost their lives, and we won’t know everything that happened in these dark days.
To me, what’s important are the stories of survival, unbelievable hardship, and luck. Not just in a sense of how people survived but because we should recognize what people went through. We can’t shun trauma. I will say tales from the second episode are more palatable for the listener- while terrifying they give more hope to the average person. This is also where we hear the baby coo, which was oddly grounding, so I’ll take it.
The third episode, released today, outlines the Superdome, the Convention Center, and Memorial Hospital. I suggest a break between episodes two and three, just because they are particularly heavy. Anthony saves the worst for the end, so it may be a good idea to just end episode three early after listening to how the levees in New Orleans were supposed to work- and why they didn’t.
As I said, Anthony is early in this journey. While this podcast has been running for a few years. this has been a ground-up project of one man with a passion. This is a great example of one of those podcasts everyone should give a chance because they tend to be some of the best podcasts full of passion and heart. Give Disastrous History a try, even if it’s not the Katrina episodes. You’ll see what I mean.
Podlink for Disastrous History Here.
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