It was one of the worst disasters in American history: Hundreds of thousands of homes flooded, more than 1,800 dead, and millions of lives disrupted. Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, many areas of New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana have bounced back stronger than ever.
However, in other neighborhoods, hunger is a problem yet to be solved.
Gail Womack-Murray now runs Love In Action Ministries, a partner organization providing food and counseling for thousands of local families every month in Eastern New Orleans. In 2005, after Katrina’s floodwaters devastated the area, Miss Gail (as she likes to be called) partnered with Second Harvest to help distribute the millions of pounds of donations that were streaming in.
“Our church where the pantry was got eight feet of water,” she said. “Just a few days after people started coming back into the city, we had a massive tent set up on Chef Menteur Highway.
Second Harvest 18-wheelers delivered food and supplies for the next 18 months.”
Second Harvest President and CEO Natalie Jayroe recalls what it was like in the chaotic aftermath of the storm.
“We had relocated our operation to a former Walmart near Baton Rouge,” Jayroe said. “With our partners at Feeding America, we became the largest food bank in history. The support from across the country and around the world was humbling.”
For a time, it wasn’t clear if New Orleans would be rebuilt. Many questioned why so many wanted to return to a city that had been virtually destroyed.
“When you get to know the people of South Louisiana, you get to know their resiliency, their courage, their love of a good time…and even their sense of humor that gets them through disasters large and small. There really isn’t a place like it in the world.”
We would like to extend our sincere thanks to everyone who supported South Louisiana with their donations and prayers in the aftermath of this devastating event. Second Harvest is more prepared than ever to respond to the threat of the next emergency. In the meantime, we continue the fight against the everyday disaster of hunger in our communities.