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CNN Presents Classroom: Saving my town: The fight for Bay St. Louis

Educator Guide


• Rebuilding: Vital signs
• Gallery: Landmarks over time
• Storm & Flood: Making history
• I-Report: Share your photos

(CNN Student News) -- Set your VCR to record CNN Presents Classroom Edition: Saving my town: The fight for Bay St. Louis when it airs commercial-free on Monday, March 6, 2006, from approximately 4:10-5:00 a.m. on CNN. (A short feature begins at 4:00 a.m. and precedes the program.)

Program Overview

What does it take to rebuild a community---physically and psychologically---from the ground up? Will residents return to rebuild? Will insurance companies honor their commitment to their customers? The residents of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, have asked these questions for six months since Hurricane Katrina leveled much of their town. To help find the answers, CNN taps Kathleen Koch. For Koch, this isn't just a story of death, destruction and loss. It's the story of her hometown, where the house she grew up in, along with hundreds of others, has been reduced to a concrete slab. Join her and the residents of Bay St. Louis as one small community comes together to come back from the edge of extinction.

Grade Levels: 7-12; college; adult education (life skills)

Subject Areas: Social Studies, U.S. History, Geography, Contemporary Issues, Economics, Government, Personal Finance, Earth Science


This CNN Presents Classroom Edition: Saving my town: The fight for Bay St. Louis and its corresponding discussion questions and activities challenge students to:

  • Determine the different ways in which life in Bay St. Louis has been impacted by Hurricane Katrina;
  • Identify the long-term psychological, economic, social and political effects of Hurricane Katrina;
  • Examine different kinds of property insurance coverage and develop a basic understanding of how property insurance works.
  • Curriculum Connections

    National Social Studies Standards

    Standard III: People, places, and environments

    Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments.

    Standard V: Individuals, groups and institutions

    Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of interactions among individuals, groups, and institutions.

    The Curriculum Standards for Social Studies ( link) are published by the National Council for Social Studies ( link).

    Economics National Standards

    Standard 10 : Role of Economic Institutions

    Institutions evolve in market economies to help individuals and groups accomplish their goals. Banks, labor unions, corporations, legal systems, and not-for-profit organizations are examples of important institutions. A different kind of institution, clearly defined and enforced property rights, is essential to a market economy.

    The Economics America National Standards ( link) are published by the National Council on Economic Education ( link).

    Discussion Questions

    1. Who is Kathleen Koch? Where is her hometown of Bay St. Louis located? How does she describe Bay St. Louis before Hurricane Katrina?

    2. What percentage of homes and businesses in Bay St. Louis were either heavily damaged or destroyed by Katrina? What did Kathleen Koch see when she returned to her hometown three days after the storm?

    3. What were some of the things that residents of Bay St. Louis were in need of two weeks after the storm? What was the main source of help they had received at that point? How did Tommy Kidd avoid the pain of his loss? Have you ever been in a situation where helping someone else has helped you cope with loss? Explain.

    4. What is FEMA? Why has anger with FEMA been "widespread" among the people of Bay St. Louis?

    5. In what ways were last season's Bay High Tigers different from other high school football teams? What were the Tigers' players doing when they weren't playing football? Why do you think that one resident equates the Tigers' home games with "normalcy"?

    6. What does Kathleen Koch mean when she says that her hometown is in "insurance limbo"? What did FEMA's flood maps indicate about the risk of flooding prior to Katrina? What insurance issues have homeowners in Bay St. Louis faced? Do you think that other Gulf Cost residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed faced similar issues? Explain.

    7. When did classes resume in Bay St. Louis? Why did many children not return to school there?

    8. What was left of the Goodfellows' home after the storm? Why didn't Darla want to return to Bay St. Louis? Why does her husband, Keith, feel like he should be there? If you had experienced what the Goodfellows have, would you want to go back and rebuild? Why or why not?

    9. What were this past year's holidays like for the people of Bay St. Louis? How did the stress of the previous months take its toll on some of them? What is "Katrina Syndrome"?

    10. Why have some residents of Bay St. Louis felt "betrayed" by their insurance companies? What are some of the reasons given to homeowners to explain why they have not been paid for their losses? Why are many homeowners unable to rebuild or even clear their lots? What happened when Kathleen Koch called one of the insurance companies? What is the state of Mississippi doing to help its citizens get their claims settled?

    11. What is Congressman Taylor's opinion of insurance company executives? Why does he feel this way? Do you think that his feelings are justified? Explain.

    12. As of Kathleen Koch's last visit to Bay St. Louis, what percentage of its businesses remains closed? What other problems does Bay St. Louis face as its residents try to rebuild? What are some of the things its residents are "waiting for"? How would you describe the pace of assistance from FEMA and the Small Business Administration (SBA)? Why do you think that federal assistance has materialized so slowly?

    13. Although she says her hometown is optimistic, Kathleen Koch also says that "hope is tinged with resignation." What do you think she means? In your view, what would have to happen in Bay St. Louis to change this mindset?

    Suggested Activities

    1. Long-term Effects of Hurricane Katrina

    Anyone who has followed the story of Hurricane Katrina, or who has experienced a destructive storm, knows that there are serious consequences of a major storm beyond the physical destruction. Challenge students to consider the consequences of Katrina. As a class, categorize the post-Katrina consequences depicted in the program, as well as those they have seen in news reports since September 2005, into categories, such as psychological, political, social and economic. Then, divide the class into groups. Have each group select a category and discuss the long-term effects of the consequences of Katrina listed in that category. Pose the following questions for group discussion: Will any of these consequences have lasting effects? How might each of these consequences impact the community, state, and nation ten years from now? Reconvene the class and have groups share their ideas. Ask students: In your opinion, what should be done to help the people of the Gulf Coast now? What lessons do you think should be learned from this storm?

    2. What is insurance?

    Use this story as a springboard for a life skills lesson in insurance. If your students are old enough to drive, they are probably already aware of the need for auto insurance. Direct groups of students to research the different kinds of coverage for property owners. Pose the following questions to guide students' research:

  • How is renter's insurance different from homeowner's insurance?
  • What is liability?
  • What disasters are usually covered by homeowner's insurance?
  • What insurance covers homeowners in the event of a flood, and who is the carrier of this coverage?
  • After groups share what they have learned, invite local insurance professionals to your school for a panel discussion on what young adults should know about property insurance. Encourage students to ask questions and inquire about the panelists' views on what insurers have done right---and wrong---in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.


    Bay St. Louis, Gulf Coast, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Camille, FEMA, SBA, normalcy, insurance, adjuster, trauma, "Katrina Syndrome," mediation, misleading, claims, storm surge

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