PBS Reel South: Station 15

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When a New Orleans teen becomes curious about her neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a journey ensues to find the answers to all of her questions.

Through her investigation, Chasity discovers that the pipes in her area were not designed to manage large quantities of rainwater. During Hurricane Katrina, the city had installed pump stations ready to redistribute water to nearby canals, but it was easy for these water drainage pipes to become overloaded with heavy rainfall. The New Orleans’ water drainage systems are chiefly dependent on the success of these old stations. As Chasity digs further into the stations’ history, she learns that the pumps were first built in the 1800s. Chasity starts to question their rate of deterioration. When will they give out? Will it be during another dangerous storm? How soon can they be updated?

The city of New Orleans was built in a way that was not conducive to the landscape. Millions of dollars were poured into the construction and maintenance of a retaining wall. Chasity believes this retaining wall was constructed to perpetuate a lie instead of relocating residents and allowing this natural flooding.

Chasity’s neighborhood was originally a swamp, which naturally (or unnaturally) dried up. The constant water pumping has caused further lowering of the ground level or elevation in New Orleans; the soil in the region has been continuously depleted of water over the years.

The residents of New Orleans had (and still have) no clue that their lives were in danger before Hurricane Katrina.

The PBS film link expires on August 15, 2021. Make sure to catch it before then.