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LPB's 'A Second Life, A Second Chance' finds optimism, despite deep trauma among New Orleanians

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Tika Laudun
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The stories of lives rebuilt and splintered 10 years after Hurricane Katrina are at the heart of a new Louisiana Public Broadcasting documentary that premieres Sunday.

The one-hour program is titled “A Second Life, A Second Chance.” Those words echo the sentiment of lifelong resident of the Lower Ninth Ward Robert Green. LPB senior producer Tika Laudun says she had tears streaming down her face as she listened to how Green coped with the trauma of losing his granddaughter and mother in the flood waters.

“When I put her on the roof of the house, turned around to get her two sisters, turned back around and she was gone. There was nothing we could do and literally my mother drowned trying to get from the spot where we were,” Green told Laudun.

LPB produced documentaries on the first- and fifth-year anniversaries. Laudun feels the tenor of this one is different than previous look-backs. She found a strong sense of home and of people helping people.

“There are so many different neighborhoods. People who perhaps would have walked on the other side of the street from each other were now coming together and lifting each other up,” Laudun said. “That’s the most uplifting part for me is seeing this outreach of humanity where people come together to bring their neighborhoods and families back one house at a time.”

Laudun, a New Orleans native, found this effort leaves her hopeful about a city that seems outwardly to be on the right track. Part of the progress can be credited to people who keep New Orleans in their hearts and come from around the world to lend a hand, Laudun observed.

“As often as I’ve gone back to the neighborhoods, there’s still volunteers there coming to cleanup, build, and help neighbors fix what’s not fixed in their lives,” Laudun said.

The documentary premieres Sunday, Aug. 23, at 7 p.m. on most LPB stations. It will air again statewide on Saturday, Aug. 29, 10 years after Katrina made landfall.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.
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