Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans that summer. As the storm approached, people began evacuating. The roads were jammed and traffic was at a standstill. Miles, his dad and Uncle Roy hit the road, but when their car overheated, they were forced to abandon it and take shelter in the Superdome. Miles dreamed of playing football in the Superdome. His dad and Uncles first gig was in a shelter. So, the Superdome/hurricane shelter conjured up different images for each of them.
In daily installments, Hurricane Song recounts the stark reality of the humane and brutal sides of shelter life during the hurricane. Juxtaposed against the homeless caring for each other is the harshness of gangs roaming the Superdome extorting protection payments and brutalizing evacuees. Offsetting the hopefulness of the displaced is the lack of compassion shown by some law enforcement officers. Volponi describes the horrendous living conditions the evacuees suffered: filth, lack of food and water, sleeping while sitting on stadium seats, guarding their possessions. He describes streets drowning in fetid water and looting of abandoned stores.
Hurricane Song is a beautifully written book of hope. Doc never gives up hope that the clubs, symbols of New Orleans music and soul, are spared and that his apartment above the Pharaoh club is in tact. The funeral march around the Superdome for an evacuee who died, including the initial slow dirges morphing into livelier songs which accompany the spirit to its final rest, depict the importance of music and the hope that life gets better. Volponi, a favorite author of mine, is known for his sports books such as Black and White and Rucker Park Setup. He has shown his versatility in Hurricane Song. This short book is well worth your attention.