I have to admit, part of me was pleased when I saw I won a national award in the portrait division of the American Society of Media Photographers annual contest. But I was a little reluctant to celebrate the award, as it is a bit unsettling getting an award for a disaster photo.
The image was taken while on a National Geographic assignment in Lake Charles, La, after Hurricane Laura decimated the city and neighboring parish. For me, there is an inner conflict of being an intruder with a camera versus letting the world know the reality of the human toll. Maybe it is because I photographed my way through Hurricane Katrina, which affected my family and me in such a personal way.
The world is focused on the pandemic, political turmoil, and racial conflict, while hurricane victims seem to be forgotten. More than five months after three major storms (Laura, Delta, and Zeta) devastated areas in southwest Louisiana, many residents are still displaced and living in temporary housing. Many have been forced to move five or more times, and over 10,000 homes need significant repairs. Science tells us that this scenario will repeat itself as the effects of climate change are seen worldwide.
Sometimes photographs serve as a reminder. Let’s not forget.
DISASTER FUND (LONG-TERM RECOVERY)
SOUTHWEST/LAKE CHARLES AND SURROUNDING AREAS
Hurricane Relief and Recovery Fund
HURRICANE LAURA RESPONSE
HURRICANE LAURA FUND
NATIONAL VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS ACTIVE IN DISASTER (NVOAD)