Hurricane Katrina Anniversary

Published: August 27, 2015

Hurricane Katrina Anniversary, Tanis Starck outside her home in New Orleans attempting to retrieve any belongings that survived flooding in this undated photo. Pictured in this undated photo is Tanis Starck’s kitchen, which was damaged by floodwaters.

Ten years ago this week, residents along the Gulf Coast were anxiously anticipating where Hurricane Katrina would come ashore as the major storm headed straight for New Orleans.

By the time she made landfall, Katrina had become a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 100 to 104 miles per hour across 400 miles. It was the third deadliest hurricane in U.S. history, being responsible for nearly 2,000 deaths.

Tanis Starck was living in New Orleans in 2005 and was one of many displaced by Katrina.

As the hurricane approached, Starck and her husband joined a caravan of evacuees heading west.

“We saw thousands of people with furniture on top of their cars, suitcases on the back of their trunks, and babies, teenagers, senior citizens, complete families of eight or 10 people stuffed in one car pulling U-haul trailers with all their possessions, including their pets stuffed on top of each other,” Starck said.

She later learned their condo was completely gutted by floodwater and all their possessions were lost.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, teams of aid workers from around the country went to affected areas to give assistance. From San Diego, Scripps Health CEO Chris Van Gorder led his team of more than 200 physicians, nurses and administrative employees to Texas to treat patients at Houston’s Convention Center and surrounding community clinics.

Van Gorder kept a journal and emails from his experience. He said a sea of as many as 1,000 cots lined the floor of the Astrodome.

“As we walked around the perimeter, we saw that giant board where evacuees posted signs looking for their lost relatives,” Van Gorder said. “There were cots covered by stuffed animals and there was a cot with an elderly couple talking to a TV media crew. There were people trying to sleep but there is no way to eliminate the noise. In a way, I felt like our group was invading the privacy of these people – walking around their bedrooms, their homes. Hopefully, they will not have to stay for long.”

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