The virtual exhibition presented here revolves around one iconic form in the visual landscape of Katrina in New Orleans—variants of the X-code left by searchers as they systematically covered the city, critically pertinent markings applied to visited houses and buildings.
Marvin Nauman, FEMA News Photo, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 26, 2005"Urban Search and Rescue teams from Fairfax County Virginia Task Force 1 search door to door for people and animals. There continues to be much speculation about the identity of the search team who left these markings.
My first awareness of these markings was in 1999 in Greenville, North Carolina, after devastating floods from Hurricane Floyd’s torrential rains had inundated the eastern half of that state destroying many properties near creeks and rivers.
The search marking sticker provides users with information to apply consistent FEMA required search markings and is used as an alternative to spray?paint.
It is a high?visibility, peel and stick label that can be applied to structures (preferably on windows) to display the appropriate search markings. The enigmatic X-code messages could appear threatening in their mystery, especially upon structures of personal significance to the viewer, while the cumulative power of thousands of these markings communicated the enormous scale of what had occurred. Marvin Nauman, FEMA News Photo, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 30, 2005"Debris created by Hurricane Katrina covers entire neighborhoods complicating sorting and collection.


They captured images of personnel painting the codes, leaving notices explaining the search in mailboxes, entering to search, of codes on structures that had floated to the middle of streets or landed atop vehicles, of boats on roofs and pieces of houses jumbled together, of successive lines marking where the water had settled, and the wreckage left behind when the water had receded. Distinct markings will be made inside the four quadrants of the X to clearly denote the search status and findings at the time of this assessment. Marvin Nauman, FEMA News Photo, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 30, 2005"Houses were destroyed after Hurricane Katrina came through the area and the levees broke. Arrow located next to a marking box indicates the direction to the safe entrance to the structure, should the marking box need to be made remote from the indicated entrance.
FEMA-contracted photographers with their authorized access captured images of codes applied to rooftops when these would have been the only visible portions of a home.
Frederick Barton describes encountering a unique interpretation of the code: “At the time of our first return to the city, we assumed the mark on our exterior wall was planned—the tail indicated hurricane damage and distinguished itself from other marks that FEMA used to indicate earthquakes or fire or other kinds of disasters.
Coded markings indicate the structural instability of this home in the Lower Ninth Ward, washed from its foundation by the force of floodwaters surging through the levee breach on the Industrial Canal before being stopped by trees.
Photographers contracted by FEMA in August, September, and October of 2005 took the images in the following slide show.


Win Henderson, FEMA New Photo, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 5, 2005"A search and rescue crew marks a home that has been searched for individuals left stranded so others will not duplicate efforts to rescue stranded people. Jocelyn Augustino, FEMA News Photo, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 6, 2005"FEMA Urban Search and Rescue task forces continue search operations into neighborhoods impacted by Hurricane Katrina.
Jocelyn Augustino, FEMA News Photo, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 6, 2005"FEMA Urban Search and Rescue task forces continue search operations into neighborhoods by Hurricane Katrina. Marvin, Nauman, FEMA News Photo, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 26, 2005"High water lines remain on this house.



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