It’s been 8 years since America suffered its most destructive natural disaster, as Hurricane Katrina stormed ashore in southeast Louisiana, killing 1800 people, and destroying homes, forcing 100,000s to flee. The sluggish response to Katrina only added to the misery. Local and federal government officials all faced sharp criticism for their handling of the tragedy. Despite some progress in rebuilding, full recovery still continues to be a long hard road, while debate over the disaster goes on…
Since that tragic day, several films (both fiction and non-fiction) have tackled Katrina and its aftermath, with the most prominent being Spike Lee’sWhen the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts – the 2006 documentary about the devastation of New Orleans, Louisiana, due to the failure of the levees during Hurricane Katrina; and the sequel, If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise – the 2010 documentary follow-up that looks into the years after Hurricane Katrina struck the New Orleans and Gulf Coast region, and also focuses on the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and its effect on the men and women who work along the shores of the gulf.
Most have been documentaries, as you might expect.
Now producer Scott Rudin has optioned a non-fiction novel based on the tragedy, to adapt into a scripted work of fiction, based on the original source material.
Rudin has acquired rights to Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink’s novel, Five Days At Memorial, a book that was published just a month ago, by Crown Publishing, which is set in Memorial Medical Center, the New Orleans hospital that was overwhelmed by Katrina in 2005. The story follows the trials and tribulations of the many hospital staff who were forced to work in less-than-desirable conditions, as all electrical power was lost, thanks to the hurricane, no back-up, no workable contingency plans, lots of chaos and uncertainty, and a hospital overflowing with more and more patients. Doctors were forced to make rushed decisions on not only how to treat patients, but also, which to save and which to leave to die, after being shot up with morphine to make their exits less painful.
At the center of the narrative is the prosecution of one doctor and 2 nurses who were charged with homicide, after an investigation revealed unsafe levels of morphine and other drugs in 2 dozen patients who died at the hospital, 20 of which were ruled homicides.
In 2011, a New Orleans judge approved a $25 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit filed over the deaths of patients at the New Orleans hospital after Hurricane Katrina. The deal was reached between Tenant Healthcare Corp., which operated the former Memorial Medical Center, and lawyers for patients and others at the hospital during and after the storm.
Rudin will produce the film with Eli Bush through his Scott Rudin Productions.