It's been ten years since Katrina changed the landscape of Louisiana and all the lives of those who called it home. I remember returning from the evacuation feeling lucky that my home was not significantly damaged but saw great suffering around me. I still had a job at Christ the King Parish School and immediately went to work to help reopen the school. It was one of the first schools to reopen and my greatest worry was that the families would not be able to cope with the stress ahead. Many didn't ... one neighbor's dad hung himself after he lost everything, another neighbor committed suicide because she just couldn't cope, and my husband took the gun from yet another neighbor who was considering killing his family and himself after he and his wife both lost their jobs and could no longer afford their house.
Everyone touched has a story and telling them remains therapeutic. It was a surreal time for all of us but the reality that emerged was that the nonprofits serving nearly everyone were the heroes; the Forces for Good. The Red Cross was there serving meals, providing evacuees with clothing, food, and funds for housing. A multitude of human service nonprofits were assisting evacuees with the stresses of what had become daily life as well as filing paperwork and connecting them with resources. St. Vincent DePaul and Goodwill were providing clothing, meals, and furniture. The Baton Rouge Area Foundation assisted the Greater New Orleans Foundation to mobilize resources. Everywhere you turned there were nonprofits assisting in the recovery and responding more quickly than the state or federal government. They used every resource they had and more not knowing where the funds would come from, they just got it done. Nonprofits across the state and southeast reached out to families that remained evacuated or had to start new lives outside of New Orleans.
In remembering Hurricanes Katrina and Rita we need to honor these organizations. They made it possible for so many to come home and rebuild. They are a Force for Good that I for one, am so grateful for their service to Louisiana's people.