WisFilmFest2007: Russell on "Tim's Island"
Post by Jesse Russell on 4/15/2007 10:40am
I went into Tim's Island thinking I was going to be put off by the group of friends who ended up stranded and surrounded by water in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. When faced with a category four storm baring down on their city and doom and gloom in the news, they chose not to take the path of evacuation and instead chose to wait it out. I thought I would find it hard to sympathize with individuals who could leave, but chose not to.
Instead I was absorbed by the story that was never intended to be captured. Thanks to multiple trips to siphon gas from nearby holding stations the residents of Tim's Island were able to keep a generator powered and therefore battery packs charged and CNN running.
We witness the waters rising, the trips to loot, abandoned dogs yelping in the night, the streets of NOLA transformed into a sewage and gas filled Venice, and the human spirit.
With a handful of boats they were able to keep the Island supplied and when faced with opportunities to leave - including one intense night where the National Guard line dropped from a helicoptor onto their roof - they knew they could outlast many of their stranded neighbors.
But even so, fatigue, infected wounds, and hopelessness took it's toll on the residents. While Tim, the captain of the Island, kept preservation of his crew in the forefront of his mind and insisted that staying on the Island as long as possible was the best route to go, some of the others eventually cracked and found means of escape. One resident summed it up thusly; while they were better off than others, they still couldn't sleep more than one or two hours. Your mind, hyper aware of being surrounded by water and faced with possible death, keeps waking you up, trying to get you to figure out a solution and to escape danger.
One night toward the end, fissures in the security provided by Tim begin to form. A heated argument, often nonsensical and redundant due to exhaustion, erupts around how to escape the Island with all of the pets - seven dogs and eight cats.
Whatever the reason for staying behind and trying to outlast the hurricane is irrelevant. These 16 individuals were there, they survived, and they gave us an important historical document that captures just one of the many stories that unfolded in those flooded streets while we watched from the safety of our televisions at home. Sadly, most of those other stories will remain untold.
Jesse was born and raised in Connecticut, began blogging in 1997, and moved to Madison in 2003. In 2005, he co-founded dane101 along with Kristian Knutson and Shane Wealti. In addition to helping nearly a dozen contributors run this website he's helped launch various events in the city including What's Your Damage?!, the MadPubQuiz of Awesomeness, the Fire Ball Masquerade, Dane101's Freakin' Halloweekend, and more.