18 years ago — Hurricane Katrina

Waking up to an ocean moved inland

Dawn Nelson


The Sunday Dispatch ~ September 3, 2023

Satellite imagery of Hurricane Katrina before it made landfall. Image credit: NOAA National Hurricane Center.

It was 18 years ago this past Tuesday (August 29) that marked the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall in the Gulf of Mexico.

I remember when it happened. It was a slow unfolding disaster as the nation woke up to the reality of what had just happened. It was several days before the President of the United States even reacted to what was one of the biggest natural disasters that had ever hit this nation.

It was devastating.

It was so devastating, in fact, that some of my friends embarked on a disaster relief mission personally, because there was no national response.

I helped pack their bus with resources and provisions for a small crew who then went down to the Gulf Coast to provide some relief and draw attention to the dire need for national response. I like to believe that some of their photos sent to the national press helped trigger a federal level response.

There have been many hurricanes since Katrina, but Katrina was the wake up call to the need for disaster resilience and action on climate change.

And on this past Tuesday, as far as I could tell, I was the only one who remembered what Tuesday was. It was 18 years ago, after all.

So why do I remember it so well?

I was facing my own dire straits 18 years ago. My kids were young and I was having a hard time finding a way to provide for my family. I was facing eviction. While I was dealing with my own hardship, I realized I could still help provide relief to others facing something even worse.

At the very least, I could gather some resources and help pack a bus.

The months that followed those first five days of Hurricane Katrina making landfall were exceptionally difficult for thousands of people living along the Gulf Coast. They became refugees searching for a place to call home.

My circumstances were not nearly as dire, but I could relate.

Fast forward to present day — I have a hard time listening to folks whine about silly things.



Dawn Nelson

Artist, writer, strategist ~ writing creative nonfiction, memoir, essay. WIP: 0100 Series & The Sunday Dispatch.