Skip to content →

Hurricane Katrina Response 1

01 Sep 2005, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA — Residents wait to be rescued from the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans September 1, 2005. Chaos and lawlessness hampered the evacuation of New Orleans on Thursday and a U.S. senator said thousands may have died in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast. In New Orleans, shell-shocked officials tried to regain control of the historic jazz city reduced to a swampy ruin by Monday’s storm. Bodies floated in the flooded city and authorities still could only guess how many people had died. — Image by © David J. Phillip/Pool/Reuters/Corbis

First, describe the overall impression on you. Second, select three details from the image. Describe the detail and interpret its meaning. Finally, think about how one of those details might mean something completely different if looking at it from another perspective. I will create on example below. Also, be sure to copy your work before you submit it! Otherwise, you may lose it all.

Print Friendly

Published in Uncategorized

18 Comments

  1. Jane Ngay

    Overall, the people in this photo seem to be in a dire situation. It seems as though they are trapped on top of a roof for an unknown period of time and are in need of aide.
    Based on the photo, I see three flags, one of which is on the floor and two that are in the hands of the survivors. They are holding the flags high up, perhaps even waving them to capture the attention of anybody passing by. I believe the flags are present not only as a visual aid, but also to show that they mean no harm, a symbol of their patriotism. They are sending the message that they are Americans and need the help of their fellow countrymen.
    There are also messages spray painted on the surface, “Help” and “The Water is Rising Pleas.” These phrases explain their situation, indicating they are in a flooded region and are in need of help to get to safer conditions.
    Another detail that caught my attention was the fact that five of the six survivors are looking straight into the camera, whether it be from a plane or a helicopter. This serves as an alternative way of getting anybody to take notice of them. These people have exhausted all other resources are simply looking to anybody to get them out of this desperate situation.
    If looking at this situation from a different perspective, the person lying on the mat may be perceived as an injured person while the others are trying to get medical attention instead of this being a flooded area.

  2. Satara Ahrari

    Looking at this picture, what strikes me first are feelings of despair and distress from the people on the rooftop.
    At a second look, I also sense eagerness, a will to survive. This picture gives us only a glimpse of their dire situation, where there are in need of help, but to me it’s the embodiment of something greater, the marginalization of African-Americans.

    The first details I want to focus on are the messages that have been written on the rooftop “HELP” and “The Water is Rising Pleas”. They have been written in white graffiti, directly on the rooftop. The fact that someone in that group must’ve felt like the word “Help” is not enough get help, and they had to add something as obvious as “The water is rising”, shows that the group of people on the roof have been in this situation for quite some time, without anyone seeing the urgency of their need to be rescued.

    The second detail that caught my eye is the body language and the position of the individuals in the group. Three of them are raising their arms, with the palm of their hands visible. To me, this looks more like they are sending the message: “We are unarmed, innocent,” rather than: “Notice us, we’re here”. The latter, to me, is unlikely because of the two people who are laying on their backs not acknowledging the person taking the picture. In a life and death situation like the one they are in, most people wouldn’t lay down and look at the sky but would actively seek help, unless something led them to believe that there would be no help.

    The final details I’m going to analyze and interpret are the American flags in this scenario. Two of them are being waved by two members of the group. A third flag can be seen on the floor of the rooftop. The flags are, in my opinion, not utilized to bring attention to the group, the word “help” should be enough to do so. Instead, they are trying to remind the media and the people that they are American and thus should be prioritized and treated like that by their fellow countrymen.

    These details are evidence of the poor treatment of African Americans in general, and in times of danger and need.

    Looking at this picture from a different perspective one might think that the body language of the two people lying on the ground suggests that they don’t care to be rescued and therefore don’t deserve any help. This would mean that one completely ignores the other members of the group.

  3. Michelle Harker-Davis

    The first impression I saw was the desperate need for HELP. The help sign spoke volumes to me. It’s saying “I’ve been here for a while”, it seems that help may not come soon enough, HELP the water is rising, HELP there’s too many dead already, please HELP us. The flag says American, please HELP. The people on the roof used the resources they had to attract the attention of whoever was flying over to HELP them. The water is rising please HELP. One young man was lying on the ground with his hands up, as if he surrendered to the situation they’re in. The article stated that ” bodies floated in the city ” I see helplessness because of the flooding, and I saw hope for the stranded people on the roof because they were actively seeking help.
    The media reported chaos and lawlessness in New Orleans, which in turn hampered the evacuation, and the urgency necessary to help the flood victims. I believe because of the demographic, the people are poor, the lack of preparation by the local officials, the size and intensity if the hurricane, all combined created a horrific catastrophe. The federal government and. FEMA executed poor planning before, during, and after the hurricane.

  4. Elizabeth Aquino

    The impression the pictures gives is a sad and hopeless image. The people standing looking as if they were there for a long time and the man laying down tired of trying to find someone to help them. I feel overwhelmed the fact they were able to see below them and see the disaster the hurricane left.

    The African American men holding up the flags to get attention from anyone to be rescued. They need the attention as they will not have water, food or shade to survive up on the roof.
    Another interesting detail that stood out to me was HELP “The water is rising”, because they wouldn’t spray that on the roof if they were fine. Maybe they lost loved ones and could only gather up people and get together to get to that roof top. Seeking attention from anyone.
    The last detail is the clothing as a guy is shirtless and one in shorts. Looks like Hurricane Katrina hit them on a hot day.
    Most of the details may mean something if looking from another perspective because the men may have already known about the hurricane in time to get some flags, blankets and spray paint. The specific flags are maybe the main thing to get the U.S Governments help not the HELP sign.

  5. Brian Shinn

    I feel extremely distressed and upset when I am looking at this picture. The picture brings back memories that consisted of our nation’s roughest times ever since the 21st century. The power of Hurricane Katrina was powerful enough that it still spoken of today. Many people have lost lives and homes and I always wondered if I put myself in their shoes. First detail that I notice about the image is the way they are looking straight at the camera. The people notice the cameraman taking pictures of them and they realize that they are trying to show demonstrate why they are not being saved by the government by their body posture. Second, many of the people on the roof barely carry clothing or supplies with them. I interpret that these people were lower in wealth than the middle-class. Finally, there was a graffiti’d “The Water is Rising Please.” I interpret that the water level rose extremely fast which made them had to make a quick decision to move up on the roof. One detail that can be completely different is that they barely carry supplies and they wear little to no clothing. Another perspective can state that these people are homeless people that seek shelter because they do not work for money.

  6. Zachary Cabrera

    My overall impression is that these people are in distress. This photo brings back many stories I’ve heard from firefighters and medical persons that left california to go help in the golf coast and all the time and work they had to do. They explained it was just catastrophe as far as the eye could see.
    First thing that pops out to me is that these people are on a roof. They are taking to high ground to avoid rising waters and also to make a statement and catch the attention of rescue personal and media. Second thing is the gestures these people are making with their arms and faces. Looks to me like a “WTF” kind of a look as they look above at the photographer taking their photo from a helicopter. Third the American flags catch my attention. They are waving around the flags, and also i notice a flag on the ground. From this I assume they are trying to make a statement to the american federal govt, were here, and were americans too.
    Something that could mean something else from a different perspective is maybe that they don’t need to be on the roof for safety reasons but solely to get the attention desired.

  7. Khang Pham

    When I first glance upon this photo, the impression it gave me was not despair or hopelessness or anything of such. During the time I spend on my computer, I’ve come across many photo that once I looked at, it defined the word despair and sometimes even made me rethink life, reflecting about how lucky I’am not as a person, but as an American. As I take my time to analyze the scope of the picture, I learned that these people who are waving around the American flags are in fact survivors of Hurricane Katrina and is awaiting a rescue from their government. Judging from the conditions and plead sign, rescue was nowhere near on sight during anytime they were there except a lone helicopter passing by to take photo. My first impression is closer to that of struggles in a visual point of few, rather hopelessness in the fact that the United States, the most powerful country in the world, known for being the first responder during a foreign natural disaster as well as being the most charitable country in humanitarian aid somehow can’t and or afraid to rescue 7 American citizen in America on a roof.

    I noticed the two man waving the american flag, a action directing to the United States government telling them that we are american and that we need help.
    Another thing I noticed is the guy lying down in the white tank top with his left leg on his right, seeing how chill he looks, I can assume that the disaster has long since die down and that he’s been waiting there for quite some time.
    Looking down below the guy in full white, there’s an orange kind of drink indicating that they at least have some access to water.

    If I were a news media who’s job is to deescalate the importance and effect of the photo, there are many things I can use to make this photo out so that it may seem fake or at least not as bad as it’s being portrayed such as the guy in the tank top lying down with his foot cross, if this picture for example is suppose to symbolizes desperation, how come he’s lying down there like no care in the world?, it is easy to use his innocent poses to manipulate the masses into believing that the situation is not by any mean, that of a desperate man.

  8. Jenella jiang

    By looking at the photo took by David J.Phillip, the first impression on my mind is “Hope” but “Desperate”. As the helicopter arrives it gives a sense of hope to people, as they’re thinking we’re going to be rescue. But I notice from the hand motion and their expression, they are confuse, and desperate, as the helicopter fly away from them.

    Walking through the details from the picture, I notice they were in a roof top, with the U.S flag in their hand, and writing on the floor as” The Water is Rising Pleas”, and “Help”. These detail emphasize that people were in needs of help immediately, but by looking at their hand motion, and expression they’re not being rescue from this natural hazard.

    If someone would of view this picture in a different perspective, as the person whom never seen this picture, or know about the background of this picture, the first thing comes to my mind is this real? or stage. because under their circumstances and, during a emergency evacuation, no one would of taken the U.S flag and spray paint. Misinformation is crucial to people decision, as if people seen this on news, or online can effect their action.

  9. Shabana Rahman

    The first thing that I captured from this picture was the statement “The Water is Rising Pleas” I quickly realized that this picture is about the Hurricane Katrina.I read about hurricane Katrina in my 101A English class last year. I have realized that the people in the picture are asking for help on the top of roof. A lot of people might think about this picture and assume its staged because in time of crises who grabs the flags and paint. It seems the people in the picture have realized that no one is coming to their help. From my angle I see people using whatever tools they can find to get the attention of those flying above them. The people are trying to get help for themselves and people in the area.

    The second thought that comes to my mind is the flag of America. Why do people in this picture have flags in their hands? Maybe they are in crisis and the government is not helping them.Why the government is ignoring their own people? Maybe its because the government doesn’t care about the poor people of this area. People in this picture are trying to say that we are American and we need help.So what if we are poor we are still your people. We are not from any other country.

  10. Jiaheng fang (Kevin)

    The overall impression I’ve capture from this picture was desperation. when I first looked at this picture, I thought it was stage for attention, because of the materials, and the condition they were in.

    The picture was capture in an angle of a helicopter, and there was spray paint on the roof, written “The Water is Rising Pleas”, and “HELP”. People on the roof seems stressful, and the hand gesture showing “why” . Through observation, we can see they’re tired, and hopeless people hands gesture can interpreted as they’re not getting rescue, and some just don’t care anymore.

    In this peril of time, a lot of people might wonder, why or how do they have the U.S flags, and spray paint, when I first looked at this picture, I, myself thought this was staged, because there’s no way people would grabs these kind of belonging while evacuating, without knowing the background or observing closely, it might give the wrong ideas to the public.

  11. Rosaleen Johnson

    This photo is upsetting to me. The first detail I noticed is that the photo is taken from above, presumably from a helicopter, where the photographer is safe from the flood. It’s unlikely to me that anyone actually stopped to help these young people in need. Another detail that stands out to me are their props, such as the American flags, and the spray painted words “HELP” and “The water is rising please”. That tells me that these folks have been stranded and in desperation for quite some time – enough time to create a plan, gather these materials and get onto the roof. The young man laying down also indicates that they have been there a while and are becoming exhausted. The third detail I noticed was their clothes. They are mostly in tank tops and shorts, indicating that the weather was probably really hot at the time. It makes me wonder how long they have been there and whether or not they had any food or water provided to them. This having taken place in September in the south, I can only imagine how hot and dehydrated they must have been on that roof.

    Looking at this from another perspective, I can’t help but to think how differently the media and country would have reacted had this disaster happened in a wealthy, primarily white city. I imagine that the residents in crisis would have received faster help, more emergency supplies and support. That is incredibly disturbing to consider but the fact is that it is probably a likely reality.

  12. Huiming Yan

    My first impression of the pictures is distress. It was in some sort of hardship and not pleasant.

    There are few details I noticed from the pictures. People holding American flags and waving. Word “HELP’ was written on the ground. Word “water is — please’ is written on the ground. These details tells that the that people were looking for help because water is rising.

    Some might argued that the pictures was staged for the same detail. American flag is not that accessible in many places. And the word on the ground is clean and dry may suggests that the condition was clean or at least not that bad.

    It is common that different conclusion may draw from the same detail. Maybe we should be looking the evidence outside this picture.

  13. Tasha Keeble

    First, describe the overall impression on you. Second, select three details from the image. Describe the detail and interpret its meaning. Finally, think about how one of those details might mean something completely different if looking at it from another perspective.

    The photo disturbs me. Specifically, the large depiction of the “Help” request, the young man laying on the rooftop, and the American flags waving in the hands of the people on the rooftop all add to the mood of this photo.

    The young man laying on the rooftop, his knee cocked up in a way that suggests he’s trying to get comfortable, looks exhausted and defeated. I feel sadness for the young man and those around him because they’re obviously suffering and desperate to receive help. I wonder whether or not they’ve had any water to drink and how hot they are and how long they’ve been waiting to receive help. That’s my response because I can identify with the people because I’ve needed support and help from people in desperate times and had to ask even though I would rather not wish to do so. Now, if I were viewing this situation from a more critical perspective, say a perspective that believes that people of color, specifically young African-American people who live in large cities are always up to no good or do not deserve support from their government. Media presentations have historically criminalized marginalized people: black and brown Americans, immigrants, protestors, Muslims, women, and many others in ways that create within peoples’ minds the idea that some people are inherently degenerate and undeserving of equal treatment. They don’t deserve protection and they are more than likely trying to take advantage of the good people who work hard and take care of their responsibilities. …

    [My response to just the first detail–yours does not need to be this exhaustive, but this is the idea]. Work the idea out fully.

  14. Lorena Padilla

    Looking at this photo breaks my heart to see several people of different ages that are calling out desperately for help, after reading the description of what this hurricane has caused and the numerous lives that it has taken, is really devastating. I can’t begin to imagine how it must feel to be in their shoes; wondering if they’ll be able to make it into the following day. Something that amazed me in this photo was seeing that these people had such scarce resources and yet were still able to display a powerful message.
    One of the details that really stood out to me were the signs that read: “help” and “The water is rising please.” These signs tell a lot just by glancing at the photo and reading them. It shows the viewer that these African Americans are in danger due to this flooding caused by this hurricane. Another observation that I made was that there is a woman and a man waving around an American flag (which was a bit strange to me at first). However, now that I’ve gave it some thought, I believe that these people may be Americans therefore is the reason why they are holding up the American flags to get that message across. Lastly, looking around the photo I then realized that these people were standing on top of a roof. I came to that conclusion by identifying the side of the roof which is where you are able to see the railing of the housing/apartments.
    There are many different interpretations that can be made with the objects in this photo however, one that I believe can be viewed from different perspectives are the American flags. One can say that the symbols of the flags are to get attention from Americans’ to help them. While another can argue that it may have just been the biggest thing they can find so that people can see them.

  15. Abraham Barroso

    My first impression of the picture was devastating when I saw that photograph, the people in the pictured looked like they weren’t going to make it at the end of the hardship that they are going through now. It sa to see people being trapped on the roof with barely any food or water. The worst part is that there’s a kid laying down scared and afraid of what might happen. Even though they look miserable, defeated and devastated, they still have hope within themselves. If they would of lost hope they wouldn’t have sprayed the HELP and The Water Is Rising Pleas, they are waving their arms in the air and waving the American flag to signify the helicopters and to notify that Americans are in desperate need of help. Then I remember seeing this photo in the news twelve-years ago, it was in that moment where the picture was taken in New Orleans where Hurricane Katrina hit. A lot of souls homes and businesses were lost that day, no one knew that the hurricane was going to destroys people’s lives.

    The first thing that caught my eye was the child in the roof laying down. He has the fear in his face, wondering and thinking if he was going to be saved. It must be freighting to a child to comprehend what just happened, maybe his family isn’t around with only a shirt on some pants and shoes to keep him warm. It seems that no one was comforting him to let him know that he wasn’t alone in the roof top. However the people around him was sure to keep an eye on him to see if he is okay; the second that I noticed is that the water wasn’t to high for them to get some supplies from their apartment home to keep them hydrated and safe. They manage to get spray cans, flags backpacks and water. It was just planned out it was human instinct, whenever we are stuck some unfamiliar place we don’t just give up and throw in the towel we have to adapt the environment to keep us safe until someone comes to our rescue, and it shows in this picture they aren’t pouting around with their heads down they keep getting the attention of the helicopters ;lastly was really caught my eye was all the men are facing into the same direction while the men are looking one direction the woman was looking the opposite way, maybe the men were looking at the helicopter trying to get the attention of it and maybe the woman was also trying to signal the helicopter that they’re alive and wanting to be rescued.

    With my last remark where the men and the woman are trying to signal for the helicopter, the only thing they got was their picture taken and that’s it. It got me thinking out of all the wars this country was in the government always sent food water and aid to the soldiers who are fighting for our country, but how come when it comes to a huge disaster or catastrophic phenomenon and we see people suffering to get rescued, they’re injured and needing of food and water, the people from the helicopter only get their picture taken and move on to the next sight? The answer is we lost our humanity, news reporters only add more problems by accusing the victims as dangerous because they fired shots. Helicopters have no than one seat inside so why can’t they just get a few people inside at the time to get them into a safer place, or why is that FEMA was called off because officer told them that it was a sketchy neighborhood and they shouldn’t be in danger? We lost our humanity that day, people could have been saved that day if I was part of FEMA I would risk my life to help people survive that tragedy.

  16. Edwin Chand

    When I first took a glance at the image it directly gave me an impression of hopelessness and danger and the hardships that the people are dealing with seems difficult and stuck in a terrifying position. Hurricane Katrina leaves a crucial impression on us seeing the condition they are in. The image had me feeling sympathy for those people and seeing how their surroundings are makes me feel pity and wonder if they survived during this phase.
    Taking a much closer look into the details of the image I noticed significant details that explains the interpretation of the image. Right away what caught my attention was the African-American that were waving the American flag. At first it seemed like the people in the image seemed against something which automatically formed my opinion that the people were trying to create a “scene” or get attention. Two males are raising their hands up in a aggressive manner showing their reaction to the circumstances that they are placed in. The image seems to be a traumatic event and gives detail of danger by showing a “HELP” sign spray painted on the ground conveying a message that their lives are in jeopardy. Last but not the least the third detail I observed is some of the people are homeless and in a unstable health condition. All these factors are details of the image that all have an interpretation behind it.
    With the given information it shows that the people are in a helpless situation and need to be rescued. The image goes more into details of the people showing their background where they are coming from and their living conditions. The race of the people and their environment analyzes that the African-Americans are the ones stuck in danger. The details of the image conveys that they are living in a urban neighborhood with the lack of shelter, financial support, and not having access to technology which leaves them in unawareness situation unable to communicate with the people in their surroundings. These factors builds our knowledge that the interpretation of the image is giving a message that they are Americans and need to be rescued. The interpretation of how poor people are in need for help shows a meaning that the upper class with stable financial support have access to take care of their family and loved ones and be prepared for this disaster. On the other side while the wealthy are capable of taking actions the people who face hardships in their everyday are trying to get noticed in order to be saved.
    Putting myself into other’s perspective some might mean something completely different if looking at it from other’s point of view. The image could form negative opinions to the public due to their looks, lifestyle and impressions given to them. Without understanding them the public could deny to help and turn against them in a judgmental manner. The people in danger are dressed in baggy clothes and most likely drug addicts who lost their family could indicate a sign to others of not feeling “safe” because of their skin matter and the impressions that are giving. Instead of understanding them miscommunication could lead to forming a negative opinion towards them. These are the key points that the details from the image could build different opinions and be looked at it in many perspectives.

  17. Amy Wei

    The image gives off the impression of desperation. The angle of the camera frames the subjects as if they were specimens under a microscope, trapped and out of their element. It is, overall, a very unglamorous, bleak shot that conveys a sense of pity for the people involved and an urgency to help them.

    One significant detail of the photo are the pleas for aid painted on the pavement, reading “The Water Is Rising, Please [Help]” and simply, “HELP”. This more or less makes the needs and intentions of the group in the photo clear- they are victims of Hurricane Katrina, and need to be found and rescued. The viewer can conclude that chaos and inefficiency reigns in this area, as this method of requesting relief is notably primitive.

    Another detail is actually the lack thereof; the photo is actually somewhat gaunt and barren looking. This can be attributed to the absence of any other elements than the people, the litter, some flags, and the messages. Of course, one can simply assume that there are shops, supplies, tents, vehicles, and so forth outside of the shot- as the people had to have gotten the spray paint and cans from somewhere- but the photo as is has a distinct lack of these crucial things. There is no food to eat, clean water to drink, clothes to change into, and shelter to hide under. This further accentuates the sense of despair this photo is trying to convey.

    This grim scene has a third interesting, and ironic detail: two men are waving large American flags along with their arms, with one flag crumpled on the pavement. From a superficial standpoint, this can be seen as an act of patriotism- what is a clearer act of love for the U.S. as having not one, but two large flags hoisted up by their own arms? The people in this picture seem to have faith in their country amidst the disaster. However, looking at it in context of the situation, it sends a very different message; rather than love and devotion, the focus may actually be doubt and hopelessness. By raising the flags at those in the air- who may or may not be a part of a relief effort- they are questioning the honor and validity of a country failing to provide proper aid to those affected by the hurricane. More than a political statement, it doubles as provocative bait for the U.S. to actually send help for this group of people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Skip to toolbar