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Act 2: Act Two

Reporter Annie Correal hangs around with Sol Saltzman, a demolition guy who’s scrambling for bids around Oklahoma City, to help clean up damage from the recent tornados. It’s a cutthroat business, and Sol explains to Annie how he works all the angles.


Four months after the earthquake in Haiti, Ira Glass talks to Haitian reporter Joseph-Romuald Felix while Romuald tours a tent camp in the Petionville suburb of Port au Prince. Romuald talks to four children—two of them have eaten this day, two have not.

Act 3: Haiti is Destiny

Short story writer Ben Fountain tours Port au Prince with his best friend—one of the few eye doctors in the country—and glimpses a cautionary future for us all. Ben Fountain is the author of the short story collection Brief Encounters with Che Guevera.

Act 2: My Way Or The FBI Way

Brandon Darby was a radical activist and one of the founders of the incredibly effective relief organization Common Ground. Michael May reports on how Darby changed from a revolutionary who wanted the overthrow of the U.S. government into an informant working with the FBI against his former radical allies.

Act 4: Twistery Mystery

Wayne Curtis has been puzzling over an unexplained meteorological phenomenon involving chickens...a riddle that's nearly two centuries old. Wayne is the author, most recently, of And A Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails.

Act 4: Refugee Cat

We end this show about people and animals who return against all odds with a story about some people who fear they may not be able to return: New Orleans public housing residents whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Katrina and now are slated for demolition by HUD. New Orleans resident Cheryl Wagner asks who should be more ashamed of themselves: The people who think that the public housing complexes in New Orleans should be torn down, or the ones who think they should stay.

Act 2: The Thin Gray Line

In New Orleans, visitors can take a bus tour called "HURRICANE KATRINA: AMERICA'S GREATEST CATASTROPHE," put on by the Gray Line bus company. (The tour is also sometimes called "Hurricane Katrina: America's Worst Catastrophe.") It's designed for out-of-towners, but we asked a local to take the tour and give us their impressions.

Act 2: Friday Night Floodlights

About fifteen miles from Pearlington, Bay St. Louis and Waveland are other communities struggling to bring themselves back to life.


At the Astrodome complex in Houston, charities from Colorado and Florida and other states are competing to take in the hurricane's refugees. But Colorado, which offers the best package of any state, just can't get New Orleans residents to relocate there.

Act 2: No Place Like Dome

Host Ira Glass talks to evacuees about what it's like to live on a cot in the Astrodome and the Reliant convention center next door. The lights never go out, and the p.a. runs announcements all day.

Act 3: Land Grab

As a half-dozen families—including a pregnant woman having contractions and another with a four-week-old baby—are driven around Houston looking for housing, they confront potential neighbors who they believe don't want them...and neighbors they themselves don't want. This American Life producer Lisa Pollak reports.

Act 5: Water Bed

Louann Mims, a 78-year-old retiree, planned to leave her New Orleans house before the floodwaters rose, but then the water came rushing in and she was trapped in her house for eight days on the only thing that would float: her extra firm Sterns and Foster mattress. Ms.

Act 4: The Long Way Home

Nick Spitzer, host of the Public Radio International music show American Routes, drives through deserted streets to return to his own house, and finds it doesn't feel at all like home.

Act 1: Middle Of Somewhere

In the days following Hurricane Katrina, Denise Moore was trapped in the New Orleans Convention Center with her mom, her niece, and her niece's two-year-old daughter. There, she witnessed acts of surprising humanity by armed thugs, taking charge and doing good.

Act 2: Forgotten, But Not Lost

To find out more about the bridge Denise talked about in act one and the armed police who prevented pedestrians from crossing, This American Life producer Alex Blumberg talks with Lorrie Beth Slonsky and her husband Larry Bradshaw. They're paramedics from San Francisco who were visiting New Orleans for a convention when Hurricane Katrina hit.

Act 4: Diaspora

Hundreds of thousands of Gulf residents evacuated before the storm and followed the whole thing from afar. Cheryl Wagner left for Gainesville, Florida, where her friends advised her to buy a gun and a mean dog before returning home to New Orleans.