In April 2005, I returned home from Iraq with about six months left of service before my contract ended. During the latter part of August 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast. A few days after the impact, my unit was called to action one more time but, this time, we weren’t called overseas.
Our mission was to assist the people of New Orleans by providing assistance as a first responder. As we convoyed into New Orleans, we started seeing firsthand the impact of Katrina. We set our sights and started working on our mission of assisting people and going door-to-door checking on residents. We were able to provide much needed aid to the residents. However, a couple of weeks later, we had to head back to our base in Fort Hood. I left feeling that if we had stayed, we could have done so much more.
As time passed, I moved back home to Texas and continued with my life. Then, in July 2008, Hurricane Dolly hit South Texas and devastated many communities. While my family and I were far enough inland that the storm itself didn’t have much impact, many areas were flooded. With minimal government assistance, people went along the road to recovery as best they could. Later, in 2013, I saw that a company was hiring people to assist the communities of South Texas with disaster recovery. I started doing some research, knowing I wanted to help, and applied to work with HORNE. I kept thinking of when I had to leave New Orleans and how wanted so much more. This was the opportunity to do it. I accepted the job, knowing that the employment was temporary. When I started working and because of the number of years that had passed since the natural disaster, I didn’t realize how little the communities had recovered from the impact of Dolly. I joined a mission of helping speed that recovery along.
As time passed, we started conducting home visits with the elderly and disabled that could not participate in site visits or come to our office. It’s there that I was able to experience firsthand the damage that still remained in peoples’ homes. They lived in areas where there were no drainage systems, nor paved streets, and didn’t have insurance because of limited resources. I saw how the roofs in some homes were still leaking, foundations were moved, and homes had shifted. Homes weren’t in use in certain areas because they were unsafe to live in. So many years had gone by since Dolly had happened however, there was minimal recovery assistance provided throughout all those years.
I took what I saw to heart and understood that I was right where I needed to be; helping communities recover from disasters. Moreover, I also understand how important it is for these communities to rebuild. The effects the Louisiana based consulting firm HORNE has on all the communities, where we have assisted and continue to assist, are what bring me the greatest satisfaction. As I watch Louisiana start another recovery effort, I keep them in my thoughts and prayers. Even when it seems like it’s not, recovery IS possible.
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