Back in their pre-Katrina home, but uncertain they will stay

Earlier this month, we traveled down to Louisiana to visit the Arnesens at their house in Buras (just a couple of miles up the road from Venice). The family might have some big changes on the horizon, so we wanted to make sure we documented at least a glimpse of life in this house.

If you’ve seen previous iterations of ‘Spilling Over,’ you might have noticed that, at the time of the oil spill in the summer of 2010, the family was living in a trailer home down in Venice. The part of their story we didn’t tell then is why they were living in that trailer.

Before Hurricane Katrina, the Arnesens lived here, a house they built up the road in Buras:

Five weeks after the storm and subsequent flooding subsided, David returned to their house to find this:

Their dream house, which Kindra and David had worked so hard to build for themselves and their children, was destroyed. And it took them six years to rebuild it with their own hands and some help from their friends.

Just before the oil spill began in April 2010, Kindra had purchased the major appliances, the rebuild was moving along steadily, and they were hoping to move back into their home soon. But, like everything else in their lives, the house was put on the back burner as BP’s Maconda well dumped millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf waters and marshes around their home.

In May of this year, they finally moved back in, almost six years since the hurricane and a year after the beginning of the oil spill:

But now, in the aftermath of the oil spill disaster, the fate of this house is uncertain. Fishing has declined and the community is sick and struggling. Kindra and David are weighing the possibility of selling their dream home, moving away from their community, and starting completely over somewhere else.


David runs down the street in front of their house in Buras. Most of the other homeowners in the neighborhood did not return after Hurricane Katrina, leaving their homes to be demolished and vacant lots in their place. (Image by Jessey Dearing)


For the first time since 2004, the Arnesens decorated their Christmas tree in their real home. The last time the family celebrated Christmas in their house, Aleena was 3 years old and little David was only a baby. (Image by Lauren Frohne)


Kindra and little David add ornaments to their Christmas tree. (Image by Lauren Frohne)


Aleena sorts through ornaments to add to the tree. (Image by Jessey Dearing)


Kindra says she’ll spend at least a couple of weeks decorating the house for Christmas. (Image by Jessey Dearing)

It was a productive and emotional weekend of shooting, and pretty exhausting for all of us. We are always excited to spend time with Kindra and her family, and they are gracious enough to let us into their lives. We have a lot of new content, including an impassioned and emotional interview with Kindra, and we’re planning to have a new trailer soon, so check back soon for updates.


Aleena and Leilee, 7, a friend’s daughter who is experiencing severe health issues, nap in the backseat of Kindra’s car on the way home from a detox clinic two hours away from Buras. (Image by Jessey Dearing)

(All images are copyright © 2011 by Spilling Over: The Documentary. Please do not reproduce these images without permission.)

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