I am sure you all have heard of Hurricane Katrina, how it devastated the lives of thousands and caused extensive damage throughout the South. I want you to put aside what you have heard for now. You must have a clear mind to listen. After a group of people experiences a disaster like this, they bond together. They form a sense of camaraderie, a sense of being part of a team and belonging on that team. They all help one another; they all feel the pain of someone else; they all feel the joys. They work together.
My family moved to Louisiana a short time before Katrina. We evacuated and returned. When we returned, our house had disappeared altogether. Across the town, stories were much the same: everyone lost something. We tried to pick up the pieces of our lives, but it was impossible. It was like trying to put a puzzle together with half, or even a fourth, of the pieces. Some of it can be remade, but the greater part is lost.
We started over. When people met, Hurricane Katrina rarely came up. We just accepted the fact that everyone had lost something in the storm and moved on with the conversation.
This created a bond between the people. Everyone who had experienced it had something in common. We banded together and everybody worked as a team. At the school, if someone was struggling with his grades, he had no fewer than two people around to help him. If someone had few friends, in less than a week she had more friends than one person could possibly want. If you dropped your papers on the ground, there was always someone to help you pick them up.
One particular scene jumps out at me. One bright, sunny day in P.E., a student lost something important to him. He went to the coach and explained what the item looked like, and the coach surprised him with his response. The coach called the entire P.E. class over, explained what they were looking for, and everyone helped look. Less than five minutes later, it was found. We went back to doing what we were doing, and did not give it a second thought. I suppose that on a subconscious level, we all knew that the same would be done for us if the roles were switched.
I know this sounds like a dream or fantasy. But it is not. It is fact, truth. The people who suffered through this catastrophe know what it is like to lose something dear. They know how to let go of that which they did not want to lose. I believe a disaster of any kind has the rare ability to bring people together. People who previously would not give any thought to the needs of someone else; people who had no emotions, only logic. Hurricane Katrina destroyed many lives, but it created many new lifestyles. In every corner, there is a friend; one need only look.
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