New Orleans After Katrina

It’s hurricane season again.

Hurricane Katrina


Several days ago I posted Remember Hurricane Katrina. This is the rest of my story.

A few months after Hurricane Katrina caused such devastation in New Orleans (and other Gulf areas) I was asked by the youth leaders of our church to act as a chaperone for the annual youth mission trip that was to occur in July. Guess where they were going? New Orleans.

Really? Wow!

I thought about it long and hard because:

1. I had never been on a mission trip.

2. I would have to drive the whole way myself, about 12 hours, which I had never done. I usually acted as the relief driver.

3. New Orleans in July?!!!

4. New Orleans in July with limited air conditioning where we were staying?

But I was truly so touched by the people we had interacted with at Panama City Beach days after the hurricane hit that I knew I was going on that trip as soon as I was asked.

It was a memorable experience in so many ways. Two of my kids were in the youth group. They went too. I was inspired by both of them for different reasons, and I learned so much about them and from them that week.

I was amazed by the gratitude of the people we worked with. Our mission was to gut houses that had been untouched since the hurricane hit so they could be repaired. One couple cried and hugged us all as we piled out of the three vehicles we were in. They had been living in a tiny FEMA trailer that sat in the front yard of their house for almost a year waiting for someone to come help them begin to rebuild their lives.

It was mind boggling to me that after one year there was still so much devastation to be seen. So many areas still had no power. So many trailers in front yards. So many piles of everything that was once in the house now piled in the front yards of so many homes.

I would love to show you some pictures I took while we were there but I can’t find them!!!

There was a big boat in the middle of a neighborhood that had crashed into a house with no waterway around for miles!

Hurricane Katrina aftermath


Cars were planted on end in the ground where the hurricane had left them.

After Hurricane Katrina


Foundation after foundation in one area where houses had been before Katrina hit.

Foundations left after Hurricane Katrina


The random house in tact sitting among the many houses that had been hit and had yet to be repaired.

The baby rats that we found as we worked in the muck that was a foot deep inside the house.

I could tell you too how I  felt to learn that my uncle died while I was in New Orleans, and how I was unable to go home for the funeral to be with my family (especially my dad) because I had made a commitment; or the countless other personal inconveniences I endured; but I won’t, because to do so would take the focus off of the importance of the mission…to help a fellow human being who had suffered such loss.

I would draw on that experience during a very difficult time in my life that had yet to happen, and I still do.

I have a whole new perspective about belongings and our “stuff“.

It was a rough week but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

I wonder what it’s look likes today…

What experiences have you had that changed the way you think?


8 thoughts on “New Orleans After Katrina”

  1. Back in 2006, I went on a mission trip to Ecuador and it was a life-changing experience for me, too. You think that you are going to help people and you do. But it’s hard to comprehend just how much you also change and grow as a result of going. I know I am a much better person today for having gone. I am definitely more tolerant and compassionate. I hope to do more trips like that in the future.
    It’s wonderful that your kids were able to go as well. I think trips like that are a great opportunity for kids to put things in perspective and see the things that really matter in life (i.e. there’s so much more to life than how popular they are in school, what tech gadgets & name brand clothes they have, etc.)

    • I’ve never been out of the country though I want to go to Kenya with our church. I agree Stacey, it does make a huge difference in attitudes and I wanted my teen kids to experience it.

  2. What an eye-opening experience. I went on a mission trip once, but since I’m not very handy I didn’t think I was much of a help – we group installed a new roof. I can commiserate with the hot weather or at least my husband can. He spent a summer living in a trailer in New Orleans while on a work assignment. I’ve never been able to talk him into going back.

    • Oh I didn’t say I was handy lol! It took me days to get adjusted to the aspirator that we were required to wear while in the houses. I can see why he would be reluctant. 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for bringing this HUGE event back into the present. Have you seen Beasts of the Southern Wild? I just watched it last night, and it made me think of Katrina, and all those who stayed to ride the storm out.

    • I wasn’t personally affected by Katrina but I was. I will never forget it. No, I haven’t seen Beasts of the Southern Wild. Sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Sigh… oh the devastation that probably is still existing from this horrible catastrophe. Thank you for sharing your experience! It must have been life altering and deeply affecting as just these pictures and your eloquent words describe so much. I just can’t imagine. I pray those lives that were traumatized are slowly healing…

    • I can’t imagine living through such a traumatic event on such a grand scale. I guess there may have been some comfort in knowing you weren’t alone. But I stood in the room with people who received the news that all they owned was lost including their businesses. It was an experience I will never forget.


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