Monday, August 27, 2012

Looking Back At Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina

With Hurricane Isaac taking aim at New Orleans, this is an apt time to look back on one of Youth Journalism International's most amazing series, an account by Samantha Perez of what it was like to flee Hurricane Katrina and lose her home, her senior year and much more. Her journals, though, are ultimately a tale of strength and resilience, a story of a bright, beautiful girl who had the courage to overcome and the skill to write it all down with stunning honesty. This is the beginning of what she wrote the day that Katrina stormed ashore seven years ago:

Monday – Bossier City , Louisiana ( 5:25 pm) --  I guess that, in the long run, my dress won’t matter much.  
It was a pretty dress, though, and even though I haven’t cried yet over what’s happened, I know that when I do cry, it will be because I lost my pretty dress.  
It sounds petty, and in your minds the stereotype of this girly, popular, cheerleader will come into your head: gorgeous, blond hair with bright blue eyes, nice makeup, with long eyelashes that never have tears on them to mess up mascara.  
Samantha Perez, in her pretty pink dress
That’s not the person I am.  I’m not pumped full of estrogen. I’m not a cheerleader. I don’t have blond hair. But, I will miss my dress….  
I was going to wear it to my senior prom this year. It was strapless, this beautiful shade of pastel pink. A band of material crossed the dress at the top, a pearly, pearly white.  Pearly white flowers were printed on my dress and I loved it more than anything else in my whole room.  
I didn’t really dream of the prom, wearing my dress for that night. I dreamed of just wearing it and stepping into my living room, thick brown carpet beneath pretty white shoes. Shelby, the boy I’ve fallen madly in love with, would be waiting, looking at the giant, 11x17 pictures of me as a baby hanging on my wooden paneled wall.  
When I walked in, he’d look at me with those eyes and I know that he would be thinking that I’m beautiful.  
Maybe I loved the image of that more than I loved the dress, but the dress symbolized that fantasy, and right now, I’d give anything in the world to live in that moment for the rest of my life. Then again, maybe I just loved the dress, but that image and that dress both belong to an old world that doesn’t exist anymore.  
That dress, those pictures of me, that thick brown carpet … it’s all gone now, because Hurricane Katrina took it all away.  
I lived in a place called St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana, a town just southeast of New Orleans. I say that I lived there, because I don’t anymore. I don’t live anywhere. Currently, I’m in a hotel room in Bossier City , four miles outside of Shreveport , Louisiana , nine hours away from my home – my home that doesn’t exist. For the rest of this story, click here.
To read all of Perez's journals, grab a box of Kleenex, and click here.

No comments: