The lack of response to Hurricane Katrina, pre- and post-disaster, has inspired outrage and investigation on several fronts but seemingly little in terms of real outcomes.
Reporter Greg Palast made a trip to New Orleans in 2006 for an update on the recovery process and to assess the efforts and plans to rebuild the region better and more prepared for potential disasters in the future. What he found was a city on lockdown. Many of the older neighborhoods, particularly in lower income (i.e., black) areas, remain boarded up with no real timetable for renovation, yet the more affluent sections (read: white) are bustling with tourism lured back by the myth of the rebirth of the old legendary party city. Palast speaks with a few people, the New Orleans natives left on the outside of the velvet rope, and draws the ire of not just local officials but also the Department of Homeland Security. Palast has good intentions and a real huckster streak in him, but the main investigation in Big Easy to Big Empty barely scratches the surface. The bonus features, mainly longer interview segments, expose and explore the wrongs a bit further, but it is obvious this is only the tip of the iceberg. (tt stern-enzi) Grade: B