Southeastern's Ranatza creates poster depicting 'Floodlines of New Orleans'
Contact: Christina Chapple
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HAMMOND – The floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina literally left a ring around New Orleans. A year and a half later, the rusty legacy of the waters’ destructive ebb and flow remains etched on walls, statues, signs, and vehicles.
“It’s like you’re living in a toilet bowl – everywhere you look there is a ring around the side,” said Anthony Ranatza. A native of Harahan transplanted to Hammond first as a student and now as an employee of Southeastern Louisiana University, Ranatza took camera in hand last March to capture images of the ubiquitous flood lines.
As his personal way of commemorating the storm and of making a contribution to the city’s rebirth, he has selected the best of more than 300 photos to create a poster, “The Floodlines of New Orleans,” which he is marketing as a fundraiser for New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.
“The Floodlines of New Orleans” can be purchased for $20 ($25, autographed) at www.floodlines.com.
Ranatza, assistant director of Southeastern’s Office of Admissions, said the project was inspired by the popular “Doors of …” poster series that depicts unique or decorative entryways in many American cities, including New Orleans.
“Every photo captures the flood lines left from the toxic gumbo that rotted out New Orleans,” said Ranatza. “These markings have landed on just about everything.”
The images of the 16 by 24-inch poster show the rusty film staining cars, schoolbuses, signage, and windows – one still draped with a tattered American flag. They illustrate the residue’s ruler-straight mark on building fronts, fences, roadway pilings, a row of clothes dryers in a flood-smashed Laundromat, a statue in a flower-bedecked cemetery.
Ranatza has always had an interest in photography and furthered his talents and skills while working as a student photographer in Southeastern’s Public Information office. It was his idea after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to create a poster from the photographs he and university photographer Randy Bergeron took at a university memorial service in Southeastern’s Strawberry Stadium. That poster also became a fundraiser.
Originally, he said, “I wanted a poster just for myself to have a remembrance of Katrina and what we all went through. I had no idea that I would get them printed much less put them on the web.” But, when he showed his work-in-progress to friends, they wanted one, too. Then, the opportunity to create a Web site arose when he needed a final project for a web design class in his organizational communication master’s degree program.
“I decided I could make this happen and do it all myself,” he said.
“I know I didn’t pick an easy subject,” Ranatza said. “The photos are not friendly, polite, or uplifting. But the poster is not meant to be depressing, it’s meant to serve as a reminder so that we don’t forget about New Orleans.”
“Everybody has a story,” he said. “My whole family rode out the storm with me here in Hammond, my grandparents from Slidell, my parents and brother from Harahan and six dogs. Then, because of my grandparents’ age, we evacuated for two weeks to Tennessee.” His grandparents remained with him for nine months, while his sister and various other relatives are still coping with post-storm rebuilding and renovating.
“I wanted something we could all relate to,” he said, “something that we could look back on and and say, ‘Wow, we survived. We’re still here, we’re still strong and we will tell our story one way or the other.’”