I believe that everyone should visit a disaster zone at least once in their life. I can’t begin to describe how amazing it was to help in Biloxi, Mississippi with hurricane Katrina relief in July 2006. I know you hear stories and think “Oh, how nice of you to help. It must have changed your life.” I’ll admit that I was one of those people. But you never realize how bad the affects are until you see the overwhelming amount of ruins that the hurricanes have left.
It was the day before we left for Biloxi. I’m thinking “Why am I even going on this trip? It’ll be boring and I am supposedly going to get this amazing feeling and I am going to take for granted all these clothes I’m packing while eating these chips in my air conditioned house with running water.” Before I knew it I was in the car on my way to Mississippi. There’s now turning back now. Then a billboard caught my attention. It had two teens who survived Katrina on it. They paid money to get on the billboard to try and find their parents. I was incredibly touched by this. Here I am, complaining about how much I’d rather stay home, hang out, and enjoy my summer. And here are these kids, the same age as me, spending their summer looking for their parents. I cried softly at my selfishness. My entire attitude changed; I had a whole new perspective. One day, we worked along side a road. We were cleaning up garbage and debris left from houses. We found things like dishwasher parts, door handles, spoons, broken plates, and faucets. We assumed that this ground, which I am standing on, was the kitchen. I know they seem insignificant, but they represent something so much bigger: a home, a family, a life. As the cars passed the people were yelling out their windows saying things like “Thank ya’ll so much for helping!” and “Ya’ll are the best!” People were stopping and giving us things like sodas. One man was so thankful that he gave $100 to us and said “It’s people like you that keep our spirits up.” The sincerity and thankfulness in that man’s voice has touched my life forever. Another day we drove past where there used to be a house. All that was left was their toilet, sink, and stairs that connected the two floors… all were still in tact. This showed me that real people are going through this, normal, average people, like me.
I still think about Katrina daily. When I see pictures I no longer see just a picture, I see the hope and determination that the people have. I never realized how much I have and how quickly that could all be taken. This is why I believe that everyone needs to see a disaster, in order to really be thankful for all of the many things we possess.
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