Life Notes: Sleepless and Homesick in Seattle
by Erin Rockett, LPC, LMFT

Recently I received an e-mail from Angela, a dear lady whom I befriended in a local shelter, during the evacuation aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina. “I’m coming home to visit,” she said, “first to Ruston, and then to see my damaged house in New Orleans. I can’t wait to see you and be in Ruston again.”

“First I’m coming to Ruston”. These were poignant words from someone who called south Louisiana home for the last 20 years. Angela was one of thousands displaced by Hurricane Katrina, who took refuge in north Louisiana.

The kindness and hospitality of the Ruston community overwhelmed Angela and her family, and she now calls Ruston her second home. Prior to the storm, she had been happily employed as a teacher in the New Orleans area, and due to health issues relied heavily on public transportation. The infrastructure of a life formerly known, along with the contents of a house she left behind, washed away when Katrina blew ashore. Angela doesn’t know if she’ll return as a resident to New Orleans. She fears that much-needed services will not return, and that another catastrophic storm season looms around the corner.

“Every day is a bit more hopeful, and I’m not so terribly homesick hour by hour,” Angela states. Her courage and resourcefulness serves as an inspiration to many. In the months since Katrina, she and her family traveled from Baton Rouge to Ruston, Monroe, and eventually to Seattle. After learning her way around the sprawling city, Angela found a residence and furnishings for the family, and will enroll in additional college coursework later this spring.

Long after the country tires of post-Katrina media coverage, the survivors struggle with the after-effects on a daily basis. Millions of lives were interrupted, some irrevocably so. It is not an exaggeration to say that storm damage impacted nearly every sector of the U.S. economy, and will continue to do so for decades to come.

However, on a more personal note, for survivors such as Angela, life became livable again due to the kindness of strangers in Ruston, Louisiana.

The Life Notes articles are written by staff of Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home and are published in The Ruston Daily Leader.

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