Kathleen Koch shares her opinion on Katrina and the BP oil spill with CNN.com

It’s days like this that remind me why we at Blair do what we do.

We specialize in books on the southeastern United States. That might seem a bit narrow, but we do it because we feel there’s a voice to be heard from this region. We want to give those voices a chance to find their place and change a little bit of the world.

Which is why we knew we had to publish Kathleen Koch’s Rising from Katrina: How My Mississippi Hometown Lost It All and Found What Mattered. Her book is the story of loss, hope, and rebuilding of the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina hit five years ago, and through it she also shares her personal story of recovery. The book will officially hit store shelves on August 1, although it’s already available at some bookstores and online.

But Rising from Katrina is only one part of Kathleen’s mission to ensure we never forget the tragedies the Gulf Coast faced after Hurricane Katrina and the strong character of the people who live there. Today, CNN.com published a piece she wrote on the people of the Gulf Coast–how they will fight for their rights and rebuild their community once again after a seemingly insurmountable tragedy. Kathleen writes:

Some have asked if the response would have been as bungled if oil gushed into the waters off New York City. A fisherman’s wife in Louisiana with a front-row seat on BP’s response fumes at the company’s talk of a need to cut cleanup expenses, and the “dog and balloon” shows BP says it puts on for visiting politicians. The politicians come, shake hands and leave — at which point the cleanup workers and rows of skimmer boats disappear. I have heard from Gulf Coast residents trained and ready to work on cleaning everything from beaches to oil-covered birds who say they have found their skills either ignored or wasted.

Hurricane Katrina was like an amputation — a swift, crippling, traumatic blow. But afterward it was clear what was lost and what had to be done to recover. The oil spill is like a slow-moving plague. Residents don’t know where it’s going, how long it will last, who it will infect next, whether its effects will be fatal or survivable. The resulting sense of helplessness and dread is devastating.

Read the rest of what Kathleen has to say on the subject over at CNN.com. We promise you; it’s worth the read.

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