Five Days at Memorial Goes Inside One of Hurricane Katrina's Most Harrowing, Personal Mysteries

·3 min read

AppleTV+ is chronicling the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in its new series Five Days at Memorial.

PEOPLE has the exclusive First Look at the limited series based on actual events and adapted from the book with the same name by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sheri Fink.

The eight-episode series chronicles the thousands of lives impacted inside one hospital in the five days following the destructive hurricane in 2005. As the flooding surged and heat increased, a power failure at the hospital led caregivers to make life-altering decisions.

"We need help, we're running out of food and water," says a voiceover in the teaser, "we can't take it much longer."

RELATED: 10 Hurricane Katrina Survivors Reveal Storm's Impact on Their Lives & New Orleans 15 Years Later

Five Days at Memorial
Five Days at Memorial

Apple TV+ Vera Farmiga (center) in Five Days at Memorial

Vera Farmiga, 48, leads the ensemble as Dr. Anna Pou, a dramatized version of one of the the real-life physicians on the ground in New Orleans amid the chaos caused by the cataclysmic storm.

"There is nothing else to do for them, except to make them comfortable," says Farmiga's Dr. Pou.

Later, she says, "Every single one of us did everything we could and everybody in that hospital was treated with dignity."

Dr. Anna Pou, poses for a photograph at her home New Orleans on Saturday, July 22, 2006. Dr. Pou and nurses, Cheri Landry and Lori Budo, were arrested July 17, accused of being principals to second-degree murder in the deaths of four patients at Memorial Medical Center three days after Katrina hit Aug. 29. Formal charges will be up to the New Orleans prosecutor.
Dr. Anna Pou, poses for a photograph at her home New Orleans on Saturday, July 22, 2006. Dr. Pou and nurses, Cheri Landry and Lori Budo, were arrested July 17, accused of being principals to second-degree murder in the deaths of four patients at Memorial Medical Center three days after Katrina hit Aug. 29. Formal charges will be up to the New Orleans prosecutor.

Alex Brandon/AP Photo Dr. Anna Pou

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In the final scene of the teaser, Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti, Jr. (Philip Craig) and Assistant Attorney General Arthur "Butch" Schafer (Michael Gaston) discuss the deadly outcome of 45 bodies at the memorial hospital.

"Does that make any sense to you?" asks the A.G.

Schafer responds, "Given the conditions, maybe 45 patients just succumbed."

Counters Foti, "Maybe they didn't."

RELATED: Then and Now: New Orleans After Hurricane Katrina

Forty Four bodies (or 45) were removed Sunday, September 11, 2005 from Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans, LA. A hospital official said the patients had died between the start of Hurricane Katrina and when the flooded hospital could be evacuated several days later.
Forty Four bodies (or 45) were removed Sunday, September 11, 2005 from Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans, LA. A hospital official said the patients had died between the start of Hurricane Katrina and when the flooded hospital could be evacuated several days later.

Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty New Orleans' Memorial Medical Center after Hurricane Katrina

The events dramatized in Five Days at Memorial follow the real-life investigation into the actions of the doctors and caregivers at the hospital.

According to Fink's 2009 New York Times story, "Investigators were surprised at the number of bodies in the makeshift morgue and were stunned when health care workers charged that a well-regarded doctor and two respected nurses had hastened the deaths of some patients by injecting them with lethal doses of drugs."

Her report also notes, "Investigators pored over the evidence, and in July 2006, nearly a year after Katrina, Louisiana Department of Justice agents arrested the doctor and the nurses in connection with the deaths of four patients."

Pou eventually defended herself on national television, saying her role was to "help" patients "through their pain." After a New Orleans grand jury declined to indict her on second-degree murder charges, the case faded from view, per the Times.

New Orleans, La. Stretchers and walkers were left behind during an evacuation of the Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans where as many as 44 mostly elderly people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. After the hospital lost power, staff and family members fanned the expiring patients when the heat reached a maximum of 106 degrees inside.
New Orleans, La. Stretchers and walkers were left behind during an evacuation of the Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans where as many as 44 mostly elderly people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. After the hospital lost power, staff and family members fanned the expiring patients when the heat reached a maximum of 106 degrees inside.

Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times via Getty New Orleans' Memorial Medical Center after Hurricane Katrina

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Five Days at Memorial also stars Robert Pine, Cherry Jones, Julie Ann Emery, Cornelius Smith Jr., Adepero Oduye, Molly Hager and W. Earl Brown. It's executive produced and written by Lost's Carlton Cuse and American Crime's John Ridley, with Cuse, Ridley and Wendey Stanzler directing.

Five Days at Memorial premieres Aug. 12 on AppleTV+.