I was watching the news a few years ago, and I found myself wondering what was wrong with people today. All I saw was war, suffering, crimes, and corruption in every headline. I thought that people had finally stopped caring. However, my senior year of high school showed me how wrong I was.
I was like any other high school student. I had always envisioned my senior year to be the most exciting year of my life. Finally I would get to do things only seniors could experience. Sure, there was some storm name Katrina churning out in the Gulf, but it could not be any worse than other storms, and certainly it was not worse than the infamous Camille. My friends and I even joked about maybe even getting to miss a few days of school.
On August 30, I suddenly found myself homeless. Suddenly, I found myself in gas lines many miles long hoping and praying the station would not run out like the others. Suddenly, food and ice were rare commodities we hoped would be at the local fire station instead of a rumor like the previous five locations. Suddenly, words like FEMA, MRE’s, and tidal surge became part of everyday conversation.
In what seemed like the Coast’s darkest hour came a beacon of hope: people. People from every part of the country, background, race, culture, religion, and age group possible came down to help storm victims. The young and the old came. The rich and the poor came. Normal, everyday people came to help us get up off the ground. They brought all types of supplies: food, water, clothing, shelters, toiletries, cleaning supplies, furniture, and much more. Most importantly, they brought us hope.
My own family was blessed with a home from not one family but two. In the days following the storm, a man from a relatively undamaged neighborhood gave us the cheapest rent he could afford until we could get on our feet again. Then a family from Nebraska came down and literally built us a home for free in two months time while they stayed in two cramped camping trailers. Everyday, more and more people are coming down to help rebuild businesses, homes, and lives.
Hurricane Katrina helped rebuild my faith in people. The storm showed me the kindness complete strangers are willing to give to people they have never met. The storm showed me that the kindness in people was not lost. Katrina showed me that we, the people, still have hope. This, I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.