|ZEITOUN by Dave Eggers|
Before Hurricane Katrina, Kathy and the children evacuated to Baton Rouge, but Zeitoun stayed in New Orleans to protect his home and to oversee his clients' houses. About a week after the hurricane, he was arrested because, with his Arabic accent and swarthy appearance, he looked suspicious. He was imprisoned, with no way to let his wife know what had happened. All Kathy knew was that her husband's daily telephone calls at noon suddenly stopped. Zeitoun had been calling everyday at noon from a working landline in one of the Zeitouns' rental properties in the flooded city.
Zeitoun spent about three weeks in prison, undergoing sub-human conditions and humiliating treatment. He and Kathy tell their story in Dave Eggers' book ZEITOUN.
|Members of the extended family|
featured in STILL WAITING
After watching STILL WAITING, the students formed small groups composed of members of each of the three LIEP reading classes. Each group focused, first, on vivid imagery from the documentary. The students were especially impressed by these images:
- Houses completely submerged in water up to the rooftops
- The interior of a flooded church, with overturned pews, moldy bibles, and a grimy altar
- Home-cooked food -- gumbo, jambalaya, sausage, sea food
- The tiny, cramped kitchen in a trailer provided by FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) as a temporary home
- The family tree of this extended family, with branch after branch showing mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, cousins
- The large crowd of family members gathered for a meal at Connie Tipado's home in Dallas
After exploring these images, the students examined the forces pulling this extended family apart:
- No homes to which to return
- No services, such as police, fire fighters, mail service, banks, hospitals, schools
- Fear that such a hurricane could happen again
- Racism in St. Bernard Parish
- Better job opportunities elsewhere
- The lack of government help
Finally, the students explored the forces uniting this extended family:
- Their love
- Their habit of frequently visiting each other's homes
- Their common faith and church community
- Their many meals shared together
- Their very desire to continue the unity built up by generations of togetherness
The documentary STILL WAITING gave us all a clearer picture of what people in and near New Orleans went through during and after Hurricane Katrina. With this in mind, we began our reading of ZEITOUN.
Our next post will describe our visit with Mr. Carl Arrendondo, Chief Meteorologist for WWL-TV, one of our local television stations in New Orleans. We will share with you how Mr. Arredondo gave us a better understanding of hurricanes in general and of Hurricane Katrina in particular.