We have just experienced our worst summer for over a century, our wettest autumn for 30 years, the clocks have gone back, and the recent cold snap has confirmed that winter has arrived. However, if you think that the North East of England has one of the most depressing climates – then think again.
Superstorm Sandy that smashed into the Caribbean devastated New York and covered an area the size of Western Europe provides a timely reminder of how fortunate we are to live in such a relatively temperate climate. However, despite the extensive media coverage, what is it really like to live through such a devastating Frankenstorm.
Hurricane Katrina was the deadliest and most destructive storm of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and remains the world’s costliest natural disaster – at least until the cost of Sandy becomes clear. As we are lucky enough to live outside a hurricane zone, the impact of Katrina can only be truly understood by its horrific statistics. I have therefore including these within my review of the excellent new novel, ‘Storm of Hate’ by Jeff Todd, which provides a startling insight into Katrina’s human cost based on actual witness accounts.
Jeff Todd is the Nassau Guardian Business Editor, educated in the UK and his career has included spells as a journalist and reporter in Canada and Adu Dhabi. ‘Storm of Hate’ is his debut novel and paints a graphic picture of the aftermath of Katrina through the eyes of rich, poor, media and emergency services.
It’s reported that over 1,836 people died during the hurricane (wind speeds were recorded at 175 mph) and in the subsequent floods, making it the deadliest U.S. hurricane since 1928. Approximately 1.2 million Gulf Coast residents were affected by evacuation orders. The author captures the anguish of losing your home, the strength of spirit required to overcome family bereavement and the incredible endurance needed to survive at all costs within the New Orleans Superdome – which was supposed to be a sanctuary but became an incarnation of hell on earth.
Todd weaves ‘Storm of Hate’ around the lives of three distinct groups. Janna and Nate are a squabbling couple so wrapped up in their own personal dramas that they don’t act on the incoming danger. However, as eighty percent of New Orleans becomes flooded due to the hurricane surge protection failures, considered to be the worst civil engineering disaster in U.S history, dark waters close in around them and they begin a desperate climb to reach the roof of their home. Only one will prevail, but perhaps it’s the survivor who is unlucky as they begin a journey across the New Orleans wasteland with its landscape of looting, violence, murder and rape in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Elsewhere, Darren who is a SWAT officer, barely hangs on to his sanity as he vainly tries to maintain a semblance of order within the Superdome. According to some reports, the National Guard and federal troops could ‘shoot to Kill’ if deemed necessary following comments attributed to the Louisiana Governor with disaster declarations covered 90,000 square miles of the United States; an area almost as large as the United Kingdom. Within the Superdome hours become days, and as the food runs out the crowd’s anger focuses on the police within an increasingly menacing, claustrophobic and overcrowded environment that has long since passed its capacity to cope.
The final part of this tragic and traumatic trilogy revolves around Ronald, a criminally greedy businessman trapped in a luxury hotel and fixated on money and status, all at the expense of humanity and compassion. His aim being to cash-in on the anticipated $150 billion repair package for Louisiana and Mississippi and profit from the misery of others.
Due to death toll and destruction along the Gulf Coast the name Katrina was officially retired by the U.S. government – never again to be used for another North Atlantic hurricane. However, it won’t stop the next rage of nature, or alleviate the grief of the families of those 135 people who still remain categorised as missing in Louisiana following the ‘Storm of Hate’.
Now, who was complaining about our weather?
‘Storm of Hate’ by Jeff Todd, published by The Key Publishing House