Katrina Brings a Flood of Memories, Help & Hope

To all those who find their way to my blog, this is more than just another request for aid for Katrina victims … it’s also a personal reflection of what has transpired this past week as well as over thirty years ago.

Painful memories

My family was fortunate to survive the flood brought on by Hurricane Agnes in 1972 … our family home was (& still is) just a few blocks from the Susquehanna River in northeast Pennsylvania.

Recent media coverage of Katrina has brought back many memories, and I vividly recall the feelings of helplessness, despair, frustration, depression, etc.  I also remember the sense of displacement I felt  … we spent several weeks staying with relatives, friends, even a college dorm (this was late June & July, so the space was available).  Walking through blocks of dried mud & silt (we had to park several blocks away from our neighborhood) to get to the house each day in our own “operation clean-up”.  Hosing down the walls in our home … all the clean up & restoration that seemed overwhelming at the time.  Grateful for the sandwiches provided to us by the Salvation Army who came through the neighborhood while we worked on our homes …  And angry at the tourists who drove by in their clean clothes & their clean cars.

It didn’t seem like it at the time, but we were fortunate to HAVE a home still standing that we could clean and fix up.

Water, water everywhere …

I also remember the ultimate luxury back then was being able to take a shower … we lined up at friends’ homes (those unaffected by the flood) or their temporary homes (offered by their friends & relatives) to do this.

Then there are the bizarre things people do in times of crisis.  My mother remembers when we were allowed to go back to the house for the first time after the flood waters receded … somehow she found one of her potted plants among the wreckage, and the first thing she did was water it.  She may have been in shock, but it was a life-affirming gesture.

Hope & help …

So my heart & prayers go out to all those affected by Katrina … and to all the relief staff and volunteers who are helping them.

I know there are many worthy organizations collecting for the relief effort, and bloggers have listed some great links (like on my friend Toby’s Diva Marketing).

If you are considering a contribution, I’d like to suggest an organization that is not well known but has a unique approach to helping communities during and after disasters.  Check out the Global Facilitators Serving Communities, a worldwide network of volunteer facilitators who “train, prepare and mentor other professionals & caregivers in Disaster Intervention Facilitation.”  At their website, you’ll also find access to free disaster intervention materials.

I first learned about this organization & its dedicated volunteers when I was searching for a relief organization following the recent tsunami.  It was one of the organizations I chose for my relief contribution then … and now.

To all the relief organizations helping on the Gulf Coast, thank you.  And to all those who have survived Katrina, hang in there.  People do care.

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