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Holding Out & Hanging On

Holding Out and Hanging On: Surviving Hurricane Katrina book cover
Photo from Holding Out and Hanging On: Surviving Hurricane Katrina

Words cannot adequately convey the human dimension of the devastation wreaked on New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina. Thomas Neff’s photographs can.

As a volunteer in the city in the early days after the flood, this Baton Rouge photographer witnessed first-hand the confusion and suffering that was New Orleans — as well as the persistence and strength of those who stuck it out. Neff subsequently spent 45 days interviewing and photographing the city’s holdouts, and his photographic record is a heartbreaking but compelling look at the true impact of the disaster.

At a time when New Orleans residents felt isolated and abandoned, Neff provided the ear that many needed. The friendship he extended enabled him to capture remarkable images and to write sensitive commentaries that approach his subjects from a uniquely personal perspective.

Here are Antoinette K-Doe assessing the future of her ruined Mother-in-Law Lounge; Juan Parke, who ferried scores of people to safety in his silver canoe; Ashton O’Dwyer defending his property from looters; and Ride Hamilton pausing in his work as a freelance medic. These portraits and dozens more tell the story of the storm through many voices — and collectively they tell a story of their own.


Holding Out and Hanging On: Surviving Hurricane Katrina

Photographs and Narratives by Thomas Neff
University of Missouri Press

About the Author


Thomas Neff is Professor of Art at Louisiana State
University and is the coeditor of Teaching Photography. He has traveled
extensively in Italy, Ireland, China and Japan, producing bodies of
work that focus on people, landscape and architecture.

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