The Five People You Meet in Hell: Surviving Katrina

If you feel you are being challenged by circumstances in your life, a few pages into The Five People You Meet in Hell:  Surviving Katrina by Robert Smallwood will provide you with the needed reality check.  It did me.

This autobiographical memoir of the days of and following the disastrous hurricane that hit New Orleans in August of 2005 is an eyewitness account of a French Quarter resident.

From Wikipedia:  Economist and crisis consultant Randall Bell wrote: “Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was the largest natural disaster in the history of the United States. Preliminary damage estimates were well in excess of $100 billion, eclipsing many times the damage wrought by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.”

This book gives a palpable, personal view of the day by day survival of those remaining in the French Quarter.  Some rose to heroic heights; some snapped.

The book engaged me – I read it in two sittings unable to put it down.  The narrator and his neighbors are memorable.

Personally, I experienced Katrina from the safety of two or three degrees of separation:  there was a family from New Orleans who moved into a rental nearby, there was a neighbor with family in New Orleans scrambling to find accommodations for loved ones, there was Sage Business Partner Patricia Welther of Help Solutions in Baton Rouge who set up CRM systems to assist New Orleans businesses – but reading this book gave me a gut-wrenching view that I had not seen before.

I have read the mostly favorable reviews on Amazon.  The unfavorable reviews were critical of the personality of the author and/or the specifics of his experience.  I find those criticisms to be at best disingenuous and unrealistic.  A personal account is just that – personal.  There is authenticity (and courage) in sharing the one’s own truth.  Also, there was criticism that the French Quarter was not hit as hard as other areas, so somehow this account is not the real deal.  Again, I was scratching my head as one’s experience can only be one’s experience.

I would recommend the book available through Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Five-People-You-Meet-Hell/dp/1419617249

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