Urban Waterways researcher Katrina Lashley and I continued our gulf coast exploration with local activist, Mickey Sou, of Asian Americans for Change, an advocacy group that was founded in the vacuum created by Hurricane Katrina, where communities found they needed to organize to facilitate more engagement with officials in the chaos of the post-storm recovery. Mickey Sou was born in Montana, the child of Vietnamese immigrants. He was one month old when his parents relocated to Biloxi.
Many Vietnamese emigrated to the gulf coast following the end of the Vietnam war. Biloxi has a strong Vietnamese community comprised of many of these first and second wave immigrants and their families, who established strong ties in the shrimping community.
The warm waters of the gulf coast provided a good living for fishermen dredging the waters for oysters and shrimp. Hurricane Katrina was devastating, but many were able to go back to making their living after the storm clean-up. The BP oil spill, five years later in 2005 severely compromised the environment and eliminated this livelihood for many. A website, BridgeTheGulfProject.org, gathers the stories of many Gulf Coast residents and depicts the plight of Vietnamese fishermen four years after BP in the entry here.
The gulf coast today is still in recovery from natural and man-made disasters. We hope that you will follow along as we continue to process and go deeper into our research and share with you in their own words, the experiences of these gulf coast residents and their communities.