November 2nd, 2018


Katrina Experience Contributors


Katrina Experience Contributors


Katrina Experience Contributors

A Katrina

Katrina Experience Contributors


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Treme Press



Cont’d Katrina

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On 8.28.05, the Louisiana State Police (LASP) initiated the Contraflow Plan in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina; all interstate lanes moving away from Greater New Orleans. After six years of independent research, our forthcoming 7-part CONTRAFLOW SERIES: “A Katrina Pentalogy” will help to set the record straight on what really next, presenting our findings in a way that blames no one. Rather, we just tell the story of the first two weeks of Katrina through the eyes of those who were there.

TP 8.29.05


Lower Ninth Ward - 8.30.05

MSY-Soul Patrol-Woods

After watching the nonstop coverage of Hurricane Katrina I dropped everything and left Southern Nevada to join the Katrina Relief Efforts, where I met a survivor turned neighborhood responder named Rick Mathieu from the New Orleans 7th Ward who was exiled to my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska two weeks after the levees broke. This union would lead to the documenting of Rick and his brother Manny’s ten days on the water rescuing their 7th Ward (8th and 9th Ward as well) neighbors using their own boats. On 11.11.05, I followed Rick back home and documented the repopulation of New Orleans from Camp Mama D in the 7th Ward.

Liberty Bank "Repopulation of New Orleans" signAbout one year into the research I was encouraged by Rick Mathieu  “the inspiration” to continue beyond the story of the 7th Ward. I would go on to document the entire first two weeks of Katrina from  the neighbor-hood, local, regional, state, federal and international points of view. This commitment, independently researching the humanity side of Hurricane Katrina, would lead to the formation of The Contraflow Project. The forthcoming TCP / Treme Press literary series, A Katrina Pentalogy, pays homage to ALL KATRINA RESPONDERS, from the flooded 7th Ward to the Northern Command; as well as to all the survivors and volunteers.

The Culture: Mardi Gras Day 2008 in Treme, New Orleans, LouisianaAs for Team Contraflow, Rick is still looking out for the people of Treme and the 7th Ward.  He and his brother Manny are still trying to get their houses, boats and lives. The Mathieu Brothers turned down many opportunities to work with bigger named researchers, writers and filmmakers, and stayed with me. To date, 9.3.11, none of us have profited one dime for our work with TCP. We all have made sacrifices in the name of TCP so that our work could speak for the tens of thousands who had no voice, telling the stories of what really happened in New Orleans during Katrina. I thank God for Rick, one of the bravest persons I have ever met, referring to his ten days in the flooded 7th Ward leading a community rescue effort during a time when every African American male was considered a looter, therefore a “justifiable” target by “militia forces“. Both of us accepted the fact that there were risks. We also agreed that we would not be deterred from seeking the truth. Hence, the research continued, and it continued, and it continued. We even rode out Hurricane Gustav on 9.1.08, while a million people left Greater New Orleans. Why? Rick and Manny were not evacuating. DMAT CA-4 at Louis B. Armstrong Intl Airport on 9.7.05So I stood for the storm continuing the nonstop independent research as a team, even with the mayor’s threat to send those caught in New Orleans directly to Angola State Prison. On 11.11.11, TCP Research Phases 1-7 will finally come to its fruition, six years to the date that Rick and Manny Mathieu returned home to Treme and the 7th Ward.

For me there were times when I asked how did I get myself into a Katrina version of A Beautiful Mind meets A Love Song for Bobby Long meets Let’s Do It Again meets Pelican Brief. Looking back over the course of this unprecedented research project, I now believe what we accomplished was simply amazing! It was magical. It was mysterious. It was surreal. It was spiritual. It was professional. It was intellectual. It was misunderstood. It was radical. It was madness. It was post-traumatic. It was heart-breaking. It was compassion. It was audacity. It was resilience. It was seductive. It was New Orleans. It was beautiful minds. It was Team Contraflow. I am so proud of Rick and the others. I am honored to have worked with them on this historic project, and will never forget my experiences of the past six years. The Contraflow Project (2005-2010).

The 82nd Airborne in New Orleans: Operation All-American Assist. COMGEM MG Caldwell. Thank God for the 82nd Airborne.I also would like to thank our patrons for their the generosity and understanding, and acknowledge all those who supported TCP; and we cannot forget the scores of public affairs officers from the federal, state and local governmental agencies and branches; which includes the US Army, US Navy, USAF, USCG, FEMA, DMAT (Disaster Medical Asst Teams), CBP, FAA, DOJ, Vancouver Canada TF-1, Louisiana Lt. Gov’s Ofc.,  Port of NO Harbor Police Dept., NOFD, NOPD, and corporations like Delta Airlines.  TCP went calling on just about everybody.  We followed the desire to Share-Katrina-Experiences trail, which was a very long trail. However, without governmental and corporate gatekeepers letting us inside, there would have been no way to tell both sides; and the public has already heard too many one-sided Katrina stories. Everyone of the  governmental Katrina responders were gracious and grateful to us for coming to them. TheMichael Woods' father Vernon J. Woods an 82nd Airborne (newly integrated 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion) drafted in 1956 the people of New Orleans and the people of Greater New Orleans were also grateful when TCP came to see them.

At the end of my 5.14.09 interview with US Army 3-star general LTG William Caldwell IV, the Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne during Katrina, asked about my Louisiana-native father Vernon J. Woods, an 82nd Airborne paratrooper who was drafted in 1956. He was informed that I was missing my father’s 75th birthday. The General graciously expressed to me that he would like to send my father a commander’s coin and a personal note thanking him for his service to his country. I thank you so much General Caldwell for honoring my father on his 75th birthday. You just don’t know what that meant to my father, and to me. The 82nd Airborne, All-American, “all the way”.


Michael D. Woods, Lead Researcher
The Contraflow Project

UPDATE: We blew right past the 11.11.11 projected Contraflow Series publishing date; now looking at 2020. The good news is more and more responders have come forward to share their experiences. In July 2012, I wrote an essay entitled “The Events of 9/1,” which sheds light on our unexpected yet very successful Research Phase VIII.

…One Week Later

Search & Rescue in
the 7th Ward

…Three Months Later

7th Ward Relief
Camp Mama D

…One Year Later

1-year Anniversary
@ Bullet’s

…Fifteen Months Later

DMAT CA-4 San Diego

…Five Years Later

Super Bowl Sunday
on Bourbon Street

…Six Years Later

Family Ties Second Line
in Treme

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