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Mr. Calhoun, 51, and Ms. McCormick, 48, always felt that they were compiling a historical record as they took pictures of the pleasure clubs, the prisoners, the dockworkers, the bluesmen, the river baptisms, the sugar cane fields, the voodoo priestesses, the Mardi Gras Indians, and so on. Some of the subcultures that they meticulously chronicled were already aging into extinction.

But they did not expect their living history of the Lower Ninth Ward to become actual history in their lifetime. And they did not prepare for disaster. They did not digitize their negatives or create a secure storage system for their photographs. And so, when the hurricane destroyed their house at the corner of Chartres and Flood streets, they lost two-thirds of their life's work.

Douglas Brinkley, a historian at Tulane University who is writing a book about the hurricane, said he had two images in his head that capture the loss in the Lower Ninth Ward: "Fats Domino's piano in debris and Keith and Chandra's photographs floating away."
calhoun residence and back house

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