Hurricane Katrina is just a memory for those who witnessed the disaster from the safety of their televisions but a new documentary tells the story through the eyes of volunteers who helped re-build a community in Hancock County, Mississippi. The documentary, called Waveland, is currently running on QAC-TV.
“We filmed about 15 tapes over six days and took over 200 photos,” said QAC-TV cameraman Ted McNeil, who along with his colleague Andrea Hearn, spent a week in Waveland, Mississippi in November 2007. The two documented the rebuilding of the town, which McNeil describes as a “real war zone… it looked like a bomb went off.” Eighty percent of the residential structures of Waveland were flattened during the September 2005 Gulf Coast hurricane.
County Commissioner Paul Gunther was instrumental in coordinating the grassroots efforts which eventually sent McNeil, Hearn and a group of local volunteers to Mississippi.
“After I saw the devastation, I asked myself what we could do to help these people,” said Gunther, who along with Pastor Dan Southern of Centreville Community Church, among others, started fund-raising through a group called Queen Anne’s Cares. “We wanted them (the people of Waveland) to buy what they needed rather than bringing them supplies they may not need,” said Gunther. Hancock County was chosen as the recipient for the funds because of its similarities to Queen Anne’s County in size, population and industries like farming and commercial fishing.
Hearn spent countless hours editing and cataloging the documentary and the final version is eleven 30 minute segments. The documentary features interviews with residents who lived through the storm as well as volunteers who came to re-build Waveland.
“In our field of work, this is exactly the type of project you look for; a captivating story about human spirit and endurance in the midst of tragedy. This is…the most important documentary I’ve worked on because I think it gives a voice to a town and its citizens,” said Hearn.
McNeil said he found the whole experience very surreal and very sobering. “The local people who stayed and wanted to re-build…they were very impressive,” he said.
Go to www.qactv.com to find more detailed information about the broadcast dates and times for Waveland.
Ted McNeil and Andrea Hearn direct the volunteers during the filming of Waveland. The documentary recounts the story of rebuilding a Mississippi town in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It is now showing on QAC-TV. Go towww.qactv.com for broadcast times.