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Monday, July 15th, 2013 by

In the Path of the Storms by Frye GaillardThe documentary In the Path of the Storms, based on the book by Frye Gaillard, has won a 2013 regional Emmy Award for documentary excellence. Gaillard is also the author of the recently released The Books That Mattered: A Reader’s Memoir and Watermelon Wine, both published by NewSouth Books.

The film, produced by the Alabama Center for Public Television, tells the story of Bayou La Batre and other beleaguered fishing villages on the Alabama coast, trying to hold onto a treasured way of life in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 BP oil spill.

The documentary aired last fall on Alabama Public Television, and has been shown at colleges, schools, and public libraries across the state. Gaillard served as script consultant and on-screen narrator for the film, which was directed by award-winning filmmaker Mike Letcher, in consultation with Bayou La Batre teachers and artists Peggy Denniston and Sheila Hagler.

Watch the trailer for In the Path of the Storms:

“I’m really happy for Mike, Peggy and Sheila,” said Gaillard, “and for cinematographer Preston Sullivan who did a superb job of bringing a beautiful story to life. But mostly, I’m happy for the people of Bayou La Batre, who were, after all, the stars of the film.”

Gaillard’s book, now in its second printing from the University of Alabama Press, tells the story of a multi-cultural community, where three Buddhist temples dot the landscape of Protestant, Catholic, and Pentecostal churches, and where shrimp boats and family fishing vessels are moored in a bayou harbor just off the Gulf of Mexico.

More than 2,000 of the town’s 2,300 residents — white, black, and southeast Asian — were driven from their homes by Hurricane Katrina, only to have their livelihoods threatened again by the BP oil spill.

But the white residents, with roots going back to the 1700s, the African-Americans, whose families arrived during the Great Depression, and the Asian refugees from the War in Vietnam, have continued to pull together to maintain their historic ties to the sea. “We love it like a farmer loves digging in the dirt,” said Bayou oysterman Avery Bates. “You know you’re a part of something worthwhile.”

Learn more about In the Path of the Storms from the Center for Public Television.

Frye Gaillard’s The Books That Mattered: A Reader’s Memoir and Watermelon Wine are available in print and ebook direct from NewSouth Books or from your favorite bookseller.

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