Monday, February 27, 2006
Alarm, gratitude bind survivors' stories
As my cameraman and I drove along the Gulf Coast this week, it was as if we were connecting the dots of Hurricane Katrina, from one town, and one person, to the next. Our assignment was to revisit some of the people we met in the days and weeks after the hurricane to see how they are doing now.

There was the woman who lost her home in Waveland, Mississippi, but now celebrates the birth of her first grandchild; a psychiatrist who after Katrina walked the streets of New Orleans armed with a gun, but now drives those same streets counseling police, EMS, and other first responders; a retired merchant marine who videotaped the storm as it invaded his home, but now repairs it all himself; and a volunteer who tirelessly served hot meals to workers, and now is back at work as a juvenile probation officer. These are only a few of the many people we met.

Despite the different stories, two themes regularly emerged in our conversations. The first is one of alarm -- alarm that the killer storm evolved so rapidly into a depraved situation due to the poorly organized response, and concern that the next disaster might follow the same course. The second is one of gratitude -- gratitude toward the people who came from every corner of the country to help rescue, relieve, and rebuild the Gulf Coast.
Posted By Diana Miller, CNN Associate Producer: 8:05 PM ET
  9 Comments
My heart truly goes out to those people in New Orleans that were powerless to leave before the storm. On the other hand, those images of people complaining that the government didnt rush to their aid(after what, one day after the levee system failed?) still brings anger to my soul. When will people start to take responsibility for their own lives ? Why is it everyones elses fault that they are poor or uneducated ? Do they not have the same opportunities as everyone else ? When will they start to ask themselves these same questions ?
Posted By Anonymous Dan Hanover MD : 8:37 PM ET
Diana,

I can understand the worry that these people are feeling. I spent hours on the phone today trying to finish organizing a trip to the N.O. area to provide much needed eye exams / eye care for people in need and for those helping rebuild the area that may need assistance. We keep having road blocks put in front of us by the O.D.'s in private practice. I understand the need for them to make money, but we simply want to help those people that are unable to afford medical attention and would never have eye care if it were not provided by OD's giving of their time. We have thousands of donated glasses, medication & product just waiting to be given out; to help in some way. I was shocked and a little sad that people from the area will be missing out on a group of doctors that want to help (build homes during the day and see patients at night). Like AC 360, we are not giving up and have contacted areas in Mississippi. How many other groups have been turned away? Sorry, N.O. we really wanted to help. Mississippi we will see you soon. It shouldn't be this hard to give a gift.
Posted By Anonymous Cheryl, Raleigh NC : 9:01 PM ET
Our ability to recover from Katrina, Wilma, Ivan and other tragedies shows the incredible spirit of Americans, a quality not always shared by their elected officials. Many administrations have neglected America's cities, health needs, affordable pharmacy, and safety nets for the poor (the list is long). Critical and vaste resources are being spent on real, exaggerated, or imagined threats. The Bush Administration's legacy should not be based on the complex problems faced but how well they guided recovery from those domestic and international challenges. Are we progressing to a better nation after this and previous administrations? MJY
Posted By Anonymous Marc J. Yacht, MD Hudson, FL : 9:01 PM ET
All people joined to help rescue ,relieve and rebuild the suffering place would be better than only waitting for the professional rescued organizations.
Posted By Anonymous Ada,Beijing,China : 12:11 AM ET
So many point their fingers at the response time. Is there really a response to a disaster like Katrina that would bring the relief each indiviudal desires as quickly as they desire. What happens when a storm comes up even greater than Katrina and does even more devistation? There are catastrophes that happen and will continue to happen that no government will ever have an appropriate response to it. I remember being told to get under a desk as a young child during a disaster drill. Even at that young age I could look around me and see all the huge walls made of concrete and steel and wonde how that little desk could be a help to me if the storm hit direct. I am proud of all the people that left when they should have. I am proud of all the people who came and helped. There are so many good things to look for in this disaster. There are disasters that will occur that boggle the mind. It is always good to know there are people out there willing to take away from their way of life in order to help those in need.
Posted By Anonymous Jerry Brown - Carlsbad, NM : 1:53 AM ET
I want to make a difference. I want to do it on a personal level and a financial level. Are airlines making some promotions for people like myself? I would imagine any airline along with a hotel chain could make a huge difference by making it easier for people who have the means, to make it to New Orleans to go down, stay a min. of three days a max. of seven days to help out somehow, and to make the discount worth while, dedicate $200.00 of the airfare to the rebuilding of New Orleans. How about Americans helping Americans? Why should that be such a long shot?
Posted By Anonymous Stephen Martin, Santa Monica, CA. : 2:47 AM ET
Diana, thank you for your blog on some of the people who were affected by Katrina. We see photo's and read stories, but rarely get insight into what the person did before Katrina and what they are doing now. It's nice to be able to attach a real life to a person.

It has to be an awful feeling to live in a place your entire life and be afraid to go back after a natural disaster. It's a strange thought considering people in the SE States seem to always just rebuild after hurricanes, even though there is usually going to be another at some point in time.

I met a man from Biloxi, MS last night at the grocery store and he teared up at the thought of ever getting to go back home. He is currently working at a grocery to make enough money to get back home when he can. He was so worn down that it made me so sad. All he wanted was prayer, he wants to be with friends and family again.
Posted By Anonymous Anna Lambert, Horn Lake, MS : 5:44 AM ET
My husband and I toured the area a few weeks ago and are still in shock by what we saw there. The rescuers, my Coast Guard shipmates in particular who are stationed from Gulfport to New Orleans lost their homes also, but still managed to respond to the storm. It looks as though not much has been done to get these folks back into the area. All of us need to write to our respresentatives until something gets moving down there.
Posted By Anonymous Wendy Dempsey, Sandusky, OH : 6:42 AM ET
These people exhibit immense strength and fortitude to not have let the hurricane's tragedy stop them from continuing on with their lives. It is most certainly inexcusable that the federal government had such a poor response to this disaster, but the way in which people everywhere came together to help out their fellow Americans, and the tenacity of the hurricane victims to appreciate what they have, is truly awe-inspiring.
Posted By Anonymous Hina, Triangle, VA : 8:07 AM ET
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