A Life Changing Experience

When most people hear the word "hurricane" they connect the word "loss" to it. Recently, when people hear the word Katrina, they connect it with total devastation. As with so many others in my home city of New Orleans, I did experience many losses. My home was flooded, forcing my family to evacuate for several weeks. My great-grandmother passed away during the hurricane as well. Despite such negative things, I think that when I recall the hurricane years from now, I will remember the positive things I gained from the hurricane experience, rather than all the negatives.

Three days before the hurricane, my friends and I went to a high school football game, laughing and enjoying the weekend night together as we always do. Little did we know that within two days, we would all be scattered across the country for most of September, if not all. With nothing but text messages to keep in touch, we all prayed for the days when we would be reunited again and able to do simple things together like go to a Friday night game. My friends and I gained a new found closeness over the course of the hurricane – a type of unspoken understanding between us all, that as long as we had each other, we would be all right. I guess the saying "You never really know how much you love something until you lose it" is true. I never really realized how much my friends help me to get through things, until they were not around anymore, and I struggled to cope by myself. I believe that we are able to go on now as normal because we have each other to lean on.

Before the hurricane, I was just beginning to plan for an eventful school year as Student Council President of my high school. I was excited beyond belief about the new year, and I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish. Then the hurricane hit. As I began to hear about the possibility of evacuated students attending my high school, I’ll admit, I became a little nervous about new students taking over our school, perhaps changing the flow of things I had become so accustomed to. I know, I know, a student council president of all people should be welcoming, but I couldn’t help being a little apprehensive. But when school began, my fears were proven wrong, and I now view everyday as a school leader as a chance of a lifetime. Instead of simply repeating student council events from previous years, we now must use our imaginations and plan things that appeal to both boys and girls. We also try our hardest to make the new students feel at home on our campus. But what did I gain from it all? My role as a leader of a transitional school has made me realize that in the future I might like to lead projects that help victims recover from disasters. Seeing kids from all over our city content at my school gives me a sense of satisfaction that I want to continue feeling for the rest of my life.

Before the hurricane, I cannot say that my mom and I were very close. Like most teenager/mom relationships, we just didn’t seem to understand each other or ever have time for each other. Both of us had a lot going on in our lives, and neither of us took the time to help one another out with the stresses of life. During the first week of our evacuation, we drove each other CRAZY. We were just not used to spending all day together every day. In fact, our fights were even more intense than usual because of the added stresses of the hurricane. As we moved from place to place in September, my mother began to confide in me about her troubles, as her friends were nowhere near to consult. I began to feel as if I could do the same. Slowly but surely, we began to fight less and less, and began to understand each other more and more. Before this hurricane, I could not wait to go to college in a year and get away from everything at home. Now I know that when I do leave my home, I’ll still have a mom at home that I can talk to about my new experiences in college. Without the month we were forced to spend together during the hurricane, I don’t know if we would have ever repaired our relationship before I moved out into the world.

As the saying goes, "Every cloud has a silver lining," and in my opinion, it most certainly does. The devastation brought from the clouds of Katrina to my hometown had a silver lining of gifts to my life. I will not only take the memories of the hurricane along with me in the future, but I will also take along a close relationship with my mom and friends, and a desire to help others in the future.