Katrina remains on minds of many

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 29, 2010

It was almost exactly five years ago today that millions of Americans saw their lives, their livelihoods and their stability washed away.

Hurricane Katrina etched itself into the history books as a tragic chapter for so many.

What started as tropical storm was officially declared a Category 5 hurricane on Aug. 28, 2005. Officials began evacuating New Orleans and parts of the Mississippi and Alabama coasts.

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With winds as high as 130 mph, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast in the early morning hours of Aug. 29, decimating much of New Orleans and other communities including Biloxi and Gulfport, Miss.

The next day two sections of the levees in New Orleans broke, leaving as much as 80 percent of the city underwater.

Riots and looting ensued. Infrastructure broke down and a virtual state of marshal law took over.

In the days, weeks and months that followed the people of New Orleans picked up the pieces and began rebuilding their city.

Sadly, and ironically, on the five year anniversary of Katrina, Gulf Coast residents are facing another disaster, this one of the man-made variety.

Although it may appear that the BP oil spill isn’t as damaging as Katrina, it may have just as much of a long-lasting impact.

Five years after Katrina, there are still areas of the Gulf Coast that haven’t recovered fully and people who are trying to put their lives back together.

In the days following Katrina hundreds of evacuees packed up what was left of their lives, boarded a handful of buses and came to Ironton, Ohio, a place that must have seemed like a million miles away and a world removed from what they had known.

The Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization stepped up and housed dozens of families at Lawrence Street Apartments and some of its other facilities.

Today, most of those men, women and children have either returned to New Orleans or moved on from this region.

Some have remained here in southern Ohio, rising above the floodwaters that drove them from their homes to build a new life.

Those are the men and women whose stories we want to tell.

Five years ago, The Tribune featured a series of stories called “The Faces of Katrina.” We hope to return to that and offer a snapshot all these years later.

Any refugee from New Orleans living in the region still is invited to share their stories of how they have come to call this area home.

Any New Orleans native that would like to share this or how the BP spill is impacting their former home, can contact me at the below number or e-mail address.

Gulf residents have shown they are nothing if not resilient.

These families will likely have to dig deep and find the same inner strength that led them through Katrina to deal with this latest challenge.

They will overcome this adversity. That is what America was built on.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.