Apple+: “Five Days at Memorial” series about Hurricane Katrina – Media

In the beginning there are the images that one still remembers: television footage of flooded streets, trembling trees, drowning palm trees. The hurricane Katrina is considered one of the most devastating natural disasters in the history of the USA. In 2005, the tropical storm caused enormous damage, especially on the Gulf Coast.

The story that Five Days at Memorial told is less well known, the original recordings from that time are only cut in between. It’s the story of Memorial Hospital, a New Orleans hospital that went without power for five days as a result of the hurricane – with devastating consequences for staff and patients.

At some point, water drips from the ceiling, causing unrest

It’s all based on a true story. The journalist Sheri Fink has in one Pulitzer-winning article and researched in a book what happened back then in the real Memorial Hospital. Director John Ridley (“12 Years a Slave”) has secured the rights to the plot, Apple+ is now releasing the series on the virtual anniversary of the disaster, Katrina raged in August 17 years ago.

At first, the stately hospital seems like a safe place. While the storm is raging outside, the doctors and nurses are taking care of their patients as usual, “This Love” is blaring from the radio maroon 5. But eventually water drips from the ceiling. The caretaker explains in an emergency meeting that it doesn’t take ten or fifteen feet of water to flood the hospital, four feet is enough. “And it’s already more than a foot up out there.”

The city’s power grid has stopped working, and Memorial’s food and medicine supplies are dwindling. “When was the last time someone flew to the helipad?” asked a nurse at the next crisis meeting. “When the Pope was there, in 1991,” a colleague replies. At some point, a military helicopter lands on the clinic roof, it has room for one person. The next helicopter can only take a few people with it. The doctors and nurses have to ask themselves questions that no one wants to ask themselves: Who should get out of the hospital first? The seriously ill? The premature babies? And what happens to those who can no longer be saved?

Green are the bracelets for those who can save themselves, black for others

On day four without power, the triage bracelets are taken out at the memorial. Green for those who can save themselves, black for those who can’t. “So we decide if someone lives or dies based on colorful bracelets?” Nurse Mulderick asks the health department worker. “No one is responsible. They all have to help themselves,” he replies coolly.

There is the doctor Anna Pou (Vera Farmiga), who drugs a dying patient with morphine. There is the daughter of a woman in a coma who first dabs water on her mother’s lips and later has to put a black bracelet around her. Based on these individual fates, the big questions about the value of life and the responsibility of the individual arise.

Even 17 years after Katrina these questions remain relevant. Just think of the flood disaster in the Ahr Valley or the discussions about overcrowded hospitals in the corona pandemic.

Five Days at Memorialstarting August 12, eight episodes, every Friday, on Apple+.

You can find more series recommendations here.

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