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A time of terror – and caring – after Katrina

A time of terror – and caring – after Katrina

Today is the 10th anniversary of the devastating storm's landfall in the U.S.

As Hurricane Katrina churned and strengthened before making landfall in the U.S. on Aug. 29, 2005, most people tuned into televised weather forecasts to watch real-time images of the storm as it headed for the Gulf Coast. But even with sophisticated weather technology and advanced warnings, people had little idea of the catastrophic impact Katrina would have.

UMCOR/FEMA worker interviewing distressed family

UMCOR led Katrina Aid Today, a case management program that received a $66 million grant administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA photo by Marvin Nauman.

Bishop Hope Morgan Ward — who was then serving in Mississippi — remembers leaving a shop at closing time on Saturday afternoon. “…the shopkeeper simply locked up — no boarding up, no moving things from the floor or lower shelves.  On Monday afternoon, there was nothing where the shop had been,” she said.

The roads became snarled with traffic, and many people made it only as far as one tank of gas could take them — northward to shelters in churches, schools and community centers.

There are many who will never forget the trauma, said Ward. “Those who did not evacuate experienced terror, climbing into attics, clinging to tall trees, praying for deliverance.”

As vivid as her memory is of the frightening aftermath, Ward also remembers feeling UMCOR’s presence immediately.

"UMCOR staff helped us network for first responders, first shipments of supplies, an incoming flow of volunteers, spiritual care for clergy and other caregivers, spiritual care for children and others who had experienced trauma, and long-term recovery, including the building of three recovery centers for the stockpiling of supplies and the housing of volunteers.”

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