Can Everybody Swim?
Can Everybody Swim?
We stood chest deep in water as we watched the female police officer remove the man from his wheelchair restraints. Steadying the man, she turned to us and asked, “Can Everybody Swim?”
News coverage surrounding Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath captured America’s rapt attention and swelled our hearts. Stories of lawlessness and violence still abound from the flooded City. Who can forget the Louisiana Superdome? Can Everybody Swim? takes you beyond the camera’s lens on a journey through the maelstrom. A shortage of cash combined with a fierce loyalty to protect the Gentilly neighborhood family home purchased by his Ecuadorian immigrant grandparents led the then twenty-five-year-old author and his family to remain in their City to weather the storm, including enduring six days in the infamous Superdome. Follow this family of four and a half as they survive the worst natural disaster of the 21st century.
In the sagas of Hurricane Katrina, the Superdome stands above a flooded New Orleans like a giant space saucer too packed with refugees, and refuse, to manage a launch.
Bruce S. Snow has written the most thorough account I’ve seen of what it was like to be trapped in there, hour after hour for almost a week. With his mother, a dog and a shifting posse of allies, he watches New Orleans “shelter of last resort” give way to thirst and hunger and then to the depravity that can come with terror and despair. He digs to the root of persistent rumors — of mass murder, rape, and wantonness — and comes up with credible explanations of what really went on. It’s a dystopia right out of Dante, and yet Snow offsets misery with flashes of gallows humor and the glow of his gratitude for the men and women who bucked the herd and proved capable of tender mercies.
—Jed Horne, author of Breach of Faith, Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City.
Those of us who lived through Hurricane Katrina (inside or outside of New Orleans) remember well the horror stories (and rumors) that were reported out of the Louisiana Superdome, where some 20,000 evacuees survived in the days after the storm. Here is a genuine and authentic tale of the apocalyptic anarchy that reigned inside the “feces-dome” – the fear and panic, the hunger and thirst, the boredom and the racial tensions that people experienced inside this Hades, this netherworld of human existence. Bruce Snow marshals his considerable writing talent to tell the real story of those who survived this surreal nightmare, presided over by the U.S. Army. Snow’s is a genuine new voice of non-fiction writing reminding us of Tom Wolfe’s exhilarating “new non-fiction” of the 1960s – if the mere recording of the truth of slices of American life is stranger than fiction, you do not need to invent it.
—Günter Bischof, Marshall Plan Professor of History, University of New Orleans
One of the best memoirs to come out of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Bruce Snow's real-life tale of survival after his world was blown away is a testament to how quickly our lives can change and to the kind of resiliency and strength ordinary people are capable of when the chips are down.
—David Koon, Arkansas Times
A masterfully written account of the human misery and ultimate survival of those who lived through the worst natural and manmade disasters in U.S. history.
—Norman Robinson, retired veteran news anchor for WDSU New Orleans Channel 6 (NBC), Media Consultant, Motivational Speaker