A VILLAGE CALLED VERSAILLES
Producer: Leo Chiang, MFA
         Vietnamese refugees who arrived in Louisiana in 1975 settled in Versailles, close to the Mississippi River about 20 miles east of New Orleans, LA. When Katrina struck in August 2005, the village (8,000 people) was flooded. When evacuated villagers were allowed to return, they vowed to rebuild their community for they had moved twice during their lifetime: in 1954, from North to South Vietnam where they settled in Phước Tĩnh and Vũng Tàu and in 1975, from Vietnam to VersaillesVietnamese refugees who arrived in Louisiana in 1975 settled in Versailles, close to the Mississippi River about 20 miles east of New Orleans, LA. When Katrina struck in August 2005, the village (8,000 people) was flooded. When evacuated villagers were allowed to return, they vowed to rebuild their community for they had moved twice during their lifetime: in 1954, from North to South Vietnam where they settled in Phước Tĩnh and Vũng Tàu and in 1975, from Vietnam to Versailles.

         Under the direction of their priest and leader, Father Nguyễn Viễn, they began the rebuilding process. Six weeks later, the first mass was celebrated in front of 600 villagers; the week after 800, and two weeks later 1,200... By January 2006, while people in New Orleans were still in "shock," half of the population of Versailles had returned to their "normal" life.

         When New Orleans Mayor Nagin decided to dump hurricane debris at Chef Menteur landfill, a few miles from Versailles, the villagers protested before the city, state, and federal government. When toxic materials were detected at the landfill, people protested by blocking its entrance. In the end, they won and the landfill was permanently closed.

         On PBS channel on March 25, 2010 in Orange County, CA.