About six weeks after Hurricane Katrina, I flew down to Mississippi where I spent the next six months living in a town that was about 98% demolished and roughly ten miles east of where the eye had passed. Before that experience, hurricanes were sad, and the people who lost everything to them were tragic, but it was abstract. I’d care for a few minutes before my own life made me forget about it. I never realized just how tragic and how horrible it all was until I toured a completely leveled city with people who had spent their entire lives there.
My experience with Hurricane Katrina changed my life forever. I wasn’t much of a humanitarian before I spent my time in Mississippi, but now I have a bleeding heart. I watched strangers help each other fix roofs, protect each other, feed each other, donate clothes and medical supplies, help clean up demolished property, help each other deal with loss and so much more. I saw how much one person could change a community and I saw how important the effort of one individual was in the face of such calamity. Now I can’t seem to stop myself from participating in humanitarian efforts, especially ones focusing on hurricane relief.