If they had known, they never would have bought the house on Bayou Glen Road. Sure, it was a beautiful lot, tucked in a bend of the creek, backyard woodsy and wild, the neighbors friendly and the street quiet. A little piece of nature just 20 minutes from downtown Houston. It was exactly what John and Heather Papadopoulos — recently married, hoping to start a family — were looking for in 2007. They didn't think much about the creek that ran along their yard, aside from appreciating the birds it attracted to the neighborhood.
Even as a 14-year-old at a new school 2,000 miles from home, Kenyon Dunbar understood his new teacher's intentions were good. But the single topic Dunbar didn't want to talk about — couldn't talk about — was the one subject every last person he encountered wanted to know. Only one week earlier, Dunbar, his mother, his grandmother and two younger siblings (along with two strangers) escaped the flooded streets of New Orleans in a stolen car and drove over four hours before finding a motel room near the Texas border. The whole time Dunbar felt the world didn't care if they lived or died. Now they had found refuge in California, where Dunbar's rich uncle lived in the Bay Area, and where Dunbar, who is black, was attending an integrated school for the first time in his life.
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the southeastern United States, killing more than 1,800 people and causing more than $100 billion in damage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), then run by Michael Brown, was slow to rescue stranded residents and faced shortages of food and water. The agency was widely believed to have failed in its response to storm. Brown was summarily fired. In May, 2009, President Obama nominated Craig Fugate for the job. Fugate previously was the director of the Florida Emergency Management Agency under then-governor Jeb Bush. Since Fugate took control, things have turned around remarkably. The agency received high marks for its handling of Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.