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Voices from the Storm: The People of New Orleans on Hurricane Katrina and Its Aftermath Curriculum

The narratives from Voices from the Storm offer a ground’s-eye view of what many citizens experienced during Hurricane Katrina, describing the unprecedented damage of their city and losses to their community, as well as the lack of aid from government agencies. Using these narratives as a foundation, these lessons provide an opportunity to examine this disaster through the lens of race and class in contemporary American society. Students will engage with the following questions:

  • How did racial and class divisions impact the national response to Katrina? 
  • How did the events of Katrina challenge our democratic ideals?

Grades: High school

Time Needed: Approximately 1 week of class time


  • Students will discuss perceptions of, class, race and democracy through an examination of first-person narratives 
  • Students will practice inclusive, participatory group discussion focused identifying multiple perspectives in the central text
  • Students will form responses to themes emerging from first-person narratives, using evidence from the text to support their opinion

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Voices from the Storm uses oral history to let those who survived the hurricane tell their (sometimes surprising) stories.

Inbali Iserles
for Independent UK 

About the Oral Histories

Hurricane Katrina inflicted damage on a scale unprecedented in American history, nearly destroying a major city and killing thousands of its citizens. With far too little help from indifferent, incompetent government agencies, low-income people bore the brunt of the disaster. The residents of traditionally marginalized communities suffered incalculable losses and endured unimaginable conditions.

Now, the victims of Hurricane Katrina find themselves spread across the United States, far from the homes they left and faced with the prospect of starting anew. Families are struggling to secure jobs, homes, schools, and a sense of place in unfamiliar surroundings. Meanwhile, the rebuilding of their former home remains frustratingly out of their hands. This bracing read brings readers to the heart of the disaster and its aftermath as those who survived it speak out about their lives then and now.

National Arts in Education Week

Bring It To the Stage

Voice of Witness is proud to offer a compelling theatrical adaptation of Voices from the Storm to schools and community groups.

Devised and produced by OakTech Rep at Oakland Technical High School, Voices from the Storm boldly captures the essence of its source material and provides a powerful point of entry for teaching and learning about the complexities of race, class, and democracy in the United States.

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