Five years later; Local Reflection about Hurricane Katrina Response

Special blog post: Steve Maricque, Executive Director, American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly time flashes before our eyes. Five years has passed since the power of Hurricane Katrina blasted our Gulf Coast. The impact of which changed many lives. Katrina had a wide reaching impact on our country like many had never seen before.

WLUK, WBAY, WFRV tv stations and Cumulus, Midwest and Woodard radio coming together on Wednesday, September 7, 2005 for Operation Broadcast Hope. This one day event helped raise $126,029.35 for hurricane relief.

I think back to the incredible human tragedy and destruction seen on television and the water flowing into New Orleans when the levees were breached. The impact was far reaching as shelters were being established across the country to help people from the Gulf Coast Region that were relocating to find safety. This relief operation was of a magnitude never experienced by the American Red Cross. I remember the constant media calls and interviews as media outlets locally worked to find a local story they could share.

Despite all the human tragedy and destruction that occurred, I remember how people came together to help like I’d never seen before in our country. Thousands of people came forward to volunteer in some way, give blood and give of their hard earned dollars to help those in need. Our Chapter alone collected over $1.2 million dollars locally. Fifty-two volunteers were organized, trained and sent to help in the Gulf. Some of those same volunteers remain with us today helping now locally to respond to disasters.

Major disasters can strike at any time and change lives in an instant. We need to be prepared as best we can by having emergency supplies on hand and families need to talk and prepare a plan in the event of a disaster.

(l-r) Steve Maricque, Executive Director, Carol Ingram, Jan Traversa and Mary Roellchen, Disaster Volunteers in front of one of three semis loaded with water and other supplies courtesy of Festival Foods and their customers.

I learned that the human spirit is far reaching. The willingness and need to help others still exists. The American Red Cross helps individuals fulfill that need. We provide the opportunity for those that want to help. We deliver hope for those impacted by disaster that a better day is on the horizon.