A few days ago I was at an event where I met a young lady who had witnessed first hand the destruction and chaos caused by Katrina. She spoke passonately about how the lives of her friends and neighbors will be affected long after the media leaves town. I asked her to send me her story. She did.
…and this is what Diana had to say.
My family lost almost all of our belongings and memories when the Hurricane Katrina blew through with a force even stronger than the spirit of the southern community in which I grew up. Yet, our family considers itself blessed and lucky. My family is safe and healthy, but many are not. Some survivors of Katrina are injured from the storm, or are sick from the viruses and toxic germs that were washed ashore. We lost our house and many of our material possessions, but many lost much more. My dad lost his office, but so many more now have no job at all. We are blessed because we know where all of our family members are and they are all alive. Other families have been torn apart.
I grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and until I moved to New York City a year ago, I had lived in Mississippi my whole life. As fate would have it, I was in Biloxi visiting my family when Katrina swept away everything on the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Alabama. But, I believe that was part of the plan, so that I could help by finding donors, volunteers and assistance of any kind.
Mississippi and Louisiana are synonymous with spirit, tradition and pride. I ask you on a personal level to realize that this area now has nothing except those traits to rebuild upon. While those characteristics are immeasurable, they are not material. I was there, I lived through it, and I saw for myself the piles of debris, lumber, and personal possessions that now lay lifeless where antebellum homes and quaint downtown areas once stood.
These people, the people who are important to me and to so many others, now have nothing: no electricity, no water, no plumbing. They aren't victims or refugees or displaced by the storm. No, they are people with names and families and careers and goals who happen to need to re-build their lives and their community. By remembering their history and with your help they will do just that.
In a place where simple tasks are now monumental, where everyday life is a fight for survival, where safety and health are no longer certainties upon which these communities can rest, they need your help. And when starting from scratch, even the smallest things mean the world.
Please send donations or help in anyway you can. I ask not just because it's personal to me or to my family, but because its personal to every single person who was affected by Katrina's wrath. Thank you from deep in the hearts of the Deep South.