Remember Hurricane Katrina (Aug 29 – Sep 5, 2005)
Hurricane Katrina Memorial
Today, on the 9th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the Everlasting Footprint Team came together to remember Hurricane Katrina victims – the people who lost so much in the storm and its aftermath.
Although none of our staff was in New Orleans during Katrina, we each remember how we felt as the hurricane wreaked its devastation. Staff writer Cindy Readnower lived in Florida at the time, recalling “We were helpless to do anything to ease people’s agony. Katrina’s power was a terrifying reminder of how powerless people can be.” Managing Editor Cortni Merritt remembers, “I was saddened by the history lost with the storm. The centuries of colorful life that had been lived in New Orleans – I knew that after Katrina, future generations would miss out on something special.”
“Everything seemed so far away, so out of my control,” says Mike Mapes, CMO, who was in California in 2005. He remembers, “Hurricane Katrina will always serve me as a reminder of how fragile life really is.” Nick Zhou, CTO, recalls the TV coverage, the images he watched around the clock on news networks: “I vividly remember the heartbreaking scenes of people on the roofs of their homes for days, waiting for help to come. I had never seen people stranded for so long without help. Let’s hope and pray there will never be another Hurricane Katrina.”
But, two of our Founders remember Hurricane Katrina in their hearts every day since the day that it struck. Nick Behrens, Co-founder and Business Development Manager, and Jim Smith, Co-founder and former COO both visited New Orleans after the city suffered massive damages and loss. Both want to take time today to remember and celebrate the city and its history, its legacy, its growth, and its renewal after Hurricane Katrina.
Read Nick and Jim’s stories below, and remember Hurricane Katrina at the Everlasting Footprint to read more or to write your own story. Join us today in remembering and honoring the people and spirit of New Orleans.
Talking with the People of New Orleans
I was so excited when the 2006 USA Volleyball National Championship was scheduled in New Orleans. I thought it would be a fun trip I would always remember. Ironically, I remember that trip so vividly, but for different reasons than I anticipated. Because Hurricane Katrina hit the city.
In certain areas of New Orleans, in spring 2006, I had surreal moments. A few feet before, I was in a city, and then I was standing in the aftermath of a disaster. Things like the water lines on buildings, street signs bent at 90 degrees, broken concrete, and collapsed homes made it seem like time had stopped. I could picture people trapped on houses, and I was angry more hadn’t been done to prevent this destruction and loss.
I can’t imagine how it stays with the people who lived it.
The sight of Katrina’s aftermath has so impacted me that I go to New Orleans to talk to people. I want to hear their stories.
One hotel employee told me how her home had water up to the second floor, but she managed to survive. She told me about how much she lost, and how she had to watch it happen. I spoke to college students who had to use the hotel as a dormitory, because their building on campus was destroyed. There was the man who was rescued from a bridge by a helicopter, along with several loved ones. They had built a pile of whatever they could grab from the water and were within minutes of being washed away, like they had seen happen to so many people. His grief was too great for words.
Everyone I spoke with felt betrayed by people supposedly there to help them. They felt prejudice played a role in their lack of relief. Months later, they were still suffering the losses, still upset, and still in shock.
I can’t imagine I would feel any differently.
Still one of my favorite cities, New Orleans is a first-choice destination for me. It’s the people and the spirit that make it so special. In the city of New Orleans, they remember Hurricane Katrina, but they are renewing their lives. A city of music, good food, friendship, and love, New Orleans is also a city of hard work and perseverance. I never doubted after my first trip that the city would recover. It is just a matter of when. If the people I spoke to are a good representation of the city, then New Orleans will be just fine. A city so strong, so driven, and so close in a spirit of community, I learned about hope on my first trip to New Orleans.
How the City of New Orleans Changed
In late August 2005, I lived in the east end of Long Island, far removed from New Orleans. As a person who watches the weather, I distinctly remember the seriousness of this storm when it strengthened in the gulf. There was a sense of urgency in the reporting on Hurricane Katrina.
Visiting New Orleans in 2003 and again in 2010, I was shocked at the differences of some areas, before and after the storm. New Orleans has always been a gorgeous city, picturesque – deliciously unique in its southern, French, Creole way. In 2010, on the 5th anniversary of Katrina’s devastation, I was witness to parts of the still-ravaged city. Much of New Orleans built itself back to “normal.” But driving through town this time was nothing like the experience I had prior. The carnage of Katrina remained evident, and heartbreaking.
I will never forget how thousands of people lost their homes, moved to other states to live with family and friends, to try to begin to put the pieces of their lives back together. I will never forget how people took refuge in the Superdome, though it was ripped apart itself. Their suffering was mind numbing.
The number of people who lost their lives in this disaster was high enough, but it could have been higher without the community – a group of selfless people helping one another. The stories of love and compassion are endless. These are the lessons and the legacy – why we remember Hurricane Katrina – the storm helps us all remember the triumph of human kind.
I wish it didn’t take events such as Katrina to rally the human soul and make us realize that there is hope for all of us.
We honor and remember Hurricane Katrina victims and everyone who suffered in the storm’s aftermath. Become a Collaborator at Everlasting Footprint, and share your stories of loved ones and personal events.