Over 5,000 children were missing after Hurricane Katrina. It took 7 months for the last child to be reunited with her family. Can you even imagine?
August 29, 2005 was a day that no one along the Gulf Coast will ever forget. Struck by one of the most ferocious, deadliest and costliest naturals disaster ever, New Orleans braced itself as Hurricane Katrina slammed down on the city with brutal force and destruction. As the storm surged and moved inland, multiple levee breaches in greater New Orleans catastrophically failed causing 80% of the city and neighboring parishes to flood.
As the emergency crews set in and tried to clean up the mess that was left behind, another horror materialized. Along with all the flooded and ruined homes, buildings and schools, there were over 1,800 people dead and countless missing. For those who were unable to evacuate the storm and stayed, many families were separated and over 5,000 children were missing. It took seven months to connect the last child with her parents. It was every parent’s worst nightmare and even more tragically, as a nation ten years later we are still not prepared.
When tragedy and devastation struck, international and national NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) rushed to the scene, some who came and went and others who stayed for the long haul. Save the Children, one of the world’s leading organizations that protects and advocates for children worldwide, has been on the frontline in New Orleans ever since Katrina struck, advocating that as a nation we do more to protect our most vulnerable citizens: Our children.
This summer, during the height of the hurricane season Save the Children wants parents and their children to be prepared should disaster strike again. In an effort to help parents become aware and prepared, Save the Children has launched “Get Ready, Get Safe”, a campaign to help parents understand where their state is at and how they can prepare in case of an emergency.
Save the Children argues in the report:
“Ten years after Hurricane Katrina exposed the widespread neglect of children in U.S. emergency planning, most recommendations of the national commission created to address those gaps remain unfulfilled.
Nearly four in five of the recommendations issued by the National Commission on Children and Disasters in its 2010 final report have not been fully met, according to the new national disaster report card, titled: “Still at Risk: U.S. Children 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina.”
Hurricane Katrina had a devastating impact on children, displacing hundreds of thousands of kids from their homes, schools and communities, stranding many in unsafe sheltering and temporary housing conditions — sometimes separated from their families for weeks at a time — and leaving tens of thousands of traumatized children without adequate services to help them recover.
Save the Children is imploring parents to make sure their children have an emergency contact card with not only information for local family, but also family who live out of town. This is critically important because during disasters local networks and telephones lines are usually down. Being able to call family who are not affected by a storm is important to connect children back to families”.
Why is this so critical?
Hurricane Katrina exposed appalling gaps in the how our nation protects children in disasters. Ten years later, little progress has been made and it is critical that we as parents act to ensure our children’s safety in the event of an emergency.
In short video clips, Save the Children shares some stories of what it was like to be a child during and after Katrina. Their stories are haunting and sad. Here are a few that touched me the most.
“After the Storm: Where is My Baby”
A decade ago, Hurricane Katrina separated Marceline from her 2-year-old daughter. Their story is one of 5,000 cases of missing children reported after the storm. Watch and take action to Stay Connected if disaster strikes. Make your emergency contact cards today: Stay connected.
Will You Be There? 10 Years After Katrina
Hurricane Katrina may have been 10 years ago, but for these young survivors, the memories are haunting and the scars have not healed. What was it like for a child to experience one of the deadliest hurricanes in US history and how did it change their lives? Hear what their lives are like now and what their hopes are for the future. Stay connected.
Want to learn more?
- Visit Save the Children’s “Get Ready Get Safe” page here.
- Read Save the Children’s 2015 Disaster Report Card: “Still at Risk: U.S. Children 10 Years After Katrina.”
- Check to see if your state meets four basic preparedness standards for schools and child care by looking here.
- Link to the online tool to make emergency contact cards as part of our “Stay Connected” campaign
- Read Press Release: “Save the Children Report Finds U.S. Children Still at Risk 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina”
This post was prepared as part of Mom Bloggers for Social Good and Save the Children.