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Not Just the Levees Broke: My Story During and After Hurricane Katrina Hardcover – August 19, 2008

25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Leblanc, one of the Hurricane Katrina survivors featured in Spike Lee’s HBO documentary When the Levees Broke, offers her own extended recollection of the destruction of New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. Leblanc details the decision her family made to stay in their apartment and ride out the storm and the preparations they made for what they thought would be just another hurricane. Leblanc, her husband, Ron, her mother, and a young nephew with autism were among the Ninth Ward residents mired in filthy water and inhuman conditions following the storm. Leblanc recalls, in very human flashes of selfishness, not wanting her more altruistic husband to risk his life helping others. She, a more reluctant hero, plotted to punish political figures she held responsible, as she struggled along atop the levee, overcoming her own fears to help strangers and try not to judge those who took advantage. All the while, Leblanc wondered about the politics of the city and the nation that would allow such a tragedy. A very plainspoken and personal look at a tragedy with national consequences. --Vanessa Bush

From the Author

Hello. I would like to thank my many supporters for reading and understanding the trials and tribulations of survival. Writing "Not Just The Levees Broke" My Story During and After Hurricane Katrina was very painful, but cathartic. It literally, saved my life being able to release all that we endured during one of the most painful times in my life. When I am asked about giving Glory to God, some readers have pointed out the profanity in my memoir. I simply tell them, "I Pray more than I Cuss." God knows my heart and I survived for a reason. My next memoir I am hoping to have published is also a journey of survival. Only this time, this one began as a teenager of 16 years old, into my young womanhood of being abused by a boyfriend. It is a story that I am hoping reaches parents to communicate with their children on both sides. The abused and the abusers, so that we can somehow bring to light this "Secret Society" that not only affects adults, but young people. Thanks again for the support and those who choose to criticize me for my being so direct and to the point. Phyllis Montana-Leblanc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 223 pages
  • Publisher: Atria; 1st Atria Books Hardcover Ed edition (August 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416563466
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416563464
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,902,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Phyllis Montana-Leblanc was born December 24, 1963 to Phillip and Clovina Rita Montana, in New Orleans, Louisiana. As a young child, Phyllis fell in love with writing poetry after being introduced to the poetry of Phillis Wheatley. Phyllis and her family are Hurricane Katrina Survivors, which came ashore August 29, 2005. Phyllis was featured in Spike Lee's HBO Emmy Award Winning Documentary; "When The Levees Broke." From there she wrote her memoir about her first-hand experiences during and after Hurricane Katrina; "Not Just The Levees Broke" My Story During and After Hurricane Katrina. Foreword by: Spike Lee. Phyllis then received an email from David Simon(HBO's "The Wire") asking her to read for a part in his new HBO Drama Series("Treme")and she "nailed it." Phyllis was hired to play the live-in girlfriend to native New Orleanian and actor, Wendell Pierce(Det.Bunk on "The Wire"). Treme is currently filming in New Orleans and has been picked up by HBO after seeing it's pilot. Phyllis and her husband, Ron continue to rebuild their lives in New Orleans, along with Phyllis' beloved Yorkshire Terrier, Brooklyn,a 3 year old male. Phyllis has also recently become a SAG Member and is looking forward to being able give back to her community and is passionately fighting for a hospital with emergency services to reopen in their living area, which still remains closed since Hurricane Katrina and hopes to refurbish neighborhood parks for children. HBO's "TREME" has now completed it's 3rd Season, which airs September 23, 2012. Phyllis is also featured in acclaimed Director, Lee Daniels'(Precious) "Paperboy" with Nicole Kidman and Matthew McConaughey and Macy Gray, due out 2012/2013. Enjoying 4 years in their newly purchased home, Phyllis continues to adcovate the rebuilding of her neighborhood and city of New Orleans. She has just finished writing another memoir, "No More Wire Hangers" sharing her accounts of domestic abuse as a teenager for 5 years. She is currently in search of a literary agent and publisher for this much needed story of yet, another storm of life that she has survived. Phyllis is hugely, popular on the social network, Facebook. Phyllis.MontanaLeblanc/

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By MAXIMILLIAN MUHAMMAD HALL OF FAME on August 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
i watched and followed the whole katrina storm, have family and friends who dealt with it and the whole aftermath, but when you read this book you getr a up close and direct day by day account of just what went down and the many obstacles faced during and after it's devasting effect on all people involved.Phyllis Montana Leblanc pulls no punches and speaks on her and Her Husbands situation through this brutal and unfair storm. it forever changed lives. this is a powerful must read Book ASAP and a reminder of natural disasters and how to be prepared for and what to do. very detailed and a strong,strong book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By C. B. Hardy on September 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
NOLA has a special place in my heart and I swear to this day I won't go back because of how Katrina all went down. When I saw Phyllis Montana Leblanc on Spike Lee's "When the Levees Broke" I knew there was something about this woman. She spoke with power and the pain of someone who survived a great ordeal. And she didn't mind expressing herself with a curse word or two, which reinforces the BS the survivors went through.

I heard about the book when she was being interviewed on the Tom Joyner show. I rushed out and got it. Let me tell you, this book takes you where the TV did not. I can't imagine how they did made it. Sticking around vs. leaving town. Taking the chance to go out beyond their "safe haven" through murky waters. Going from place to place until they ended up in San Antonio. Going for a week in the clothes on their backs and no baths.

Phyllis Montana Leblanc is no seasoned writer, nor did the editor correct every pargraph or sentence. I don't think that is what this book is about or meant to be presented as. Keep in mind this is her personal account, just as if you were reading her journal or sitting out on the porch listening to her tell it to you - minute by minute. I finished the book on a lazy afternoon, it's only a couple hundred pages but makes you feel like you endured the entire week.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Merna M. Ward on November 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I really liked Spike Lee's movie, When the Levee Broke,
and feel that the Montanna sisters really made that film.

I know anyone who also appreciated this film will be
interested in reading the book Phyllis wrote
about her family's experience and struggle with Hurricane
Katrina and the aftermath. It is another perspective of
what it was like to be in the middle of it and not observed
from the outside as an academic and is a welcome addition to
the library of Hurricane Katrina books that are now out.

I was troubled when Phyllis said in her presentation at the
Louisiana Book Festival that she had not read her own book
but she assured me she meant that she did not want to review it
after it was completed because it was such a painful experience
reliving the ordeal over again as she recounted it.

I understand she is now out of the fema trailor and has purchased
a new home and will be continuing university studies and possibly
playing herself in a television series about New Orleans.
I knew she would prevail in the end! I expect this is not the
last effort from her and that she has a bright future ahead in the literary world.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Paul Tognetti TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have to be honest with you. I really struggled to figure out just what to make of "Not Just The Levees Broke". After all, Phyllis Montana-Leblanc is not a writer by trade and as she predicted a number of times in the book her salty language was indeed a bit of a turn-off for me. Nevertheless, after much thought and soul searching I have come to the conclusion that the country really does need to hear from more average folk like Phyllis if we are ever to begin to solve the myriad problems that we are facing in this nation. "Not Just The Levees Broke: My Story During and After Hurricane Katrina" is a riveting first person account of one person's monumental struggle for survival in the aftermath of one of the greatest natural disasters in American history. It is compelling reading.

Although she alway enjoyed writing a little poetry I doubt that Phyllis Montana-Leblanc ever imagined that one day she would write and publish a book. This incredible opportunity came along after Phyllis was interviewed for Spike Lee's documentary film "When The Levees Broke". Spike Lee was extremely impressed with what Phyllis had to say and the way she was able to say it. It was apparent to Lee that Phyllis was "the dominent voice in the piece". Well one thing led to another and before long the chance to do a book came along. And Phyllis made the most of her once in a lifetime opportunity. Now I will have to admit that some of Phyllis' choicest language was entirely justified. Her graphic descriptions of her immediate surroundings in the aftermath of the storm seem entirely justified. There is simply no polite way to describe a scene where water polluted with oil, garbage, debris and human excrement is flooding your home.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Council on June 2, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When the HBO documentary about Hurricane Katrina first aired, I found that I focused so much on Mrs. Montana-Lablanc because she was so matter-of-fact and her poem was written from her heart. I wondered about her for years and when I saw she had written a book about her Hurricanc Katrina experience, I was relieved that she had become a true survivor. This book explains how she was able to survive the trauma and answers any questions left unanswered. She give alot of insights into what did and didn't happen that were not covered by the documentary. Anyone interested in information about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath from the point of a true survivor should read this book.
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