Mary Tutwiler

The Old Man and The Storm

by Mary Tutwiler

You might remember the name Herbert Gettridge. He is the determined 82-year-old man who was rebuilding his house in the Lower Ninth Ward. Every news team in the country made the pilgrimage down to the Lower 9 to present Gettridge as the posterchild for determination — alone in the wasteland, building, with his own knowledgeable hands, his home for his wife, Lydia, who was evacuated to Wisconsin. Gettridge was a tough-to-impossible interview, most reporters settled for a photo and moved on.

Not Frontline filmmaker June Cross. Initially rebuffed, she persevered because she wanted to know who Gettridge was before Katrina made him a painful celebrity. Her real interest finally got through Gettridge’s armor and he opened up to Cross. Her documentary, The Old Man and The Storm tells the story of life in post-Katrina New Orleans, from the first jubilant post-storm Mardi Gras through the grinding delays of The Road Home to the reunion of Herbert and Lydia Gettridge, finally together at home. The Frontline episode airs tonight on PBS at 8 p.m, cable channel 12 in Lafayette. Check out the preview below.