When disaster hits home:
Responding to people affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita
Type of activity: Questions that may be used for group discussion, as an individual worksheet, or as the basis for writing assignments
Grade level: Middle school and high school students
Setting: Can be adapted for use in public schools, Christian schools, other private schools, homeschools, and other groups
Procedure: Ask the following questions
1. What major disasters have occurred in our own country?
2. What disaster hit land on August 25, 2005?
3. Why was Hurricane Katrina called “the worst disaster in U.S. history”?
4. How strong were the winds and how high did the waves get?
With winds of 125 miles an hour and storm surges exceeding 40 feet, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were the strongest ever recorded on the Gulf Coast.
5. What states were directly affect by the disaster?
The two hurricanes devastated hundreds of coastal communities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, and Texas.
6. What impact did the disaster have on the people living in these states?
- 9.7 million people affected
- 1 million people left homeless
- 1,300 to 1,600 people died
- In New Orleans, the storm surges breached the levees and flooded entire communities, leaving more than 80% of the city under water.
7. How did Medical Teams International respond in the relief phase of disaster response?
Emergency medical care: Just days after Hurricane Katrina hit, our medical volunteers served as the medical triage unit at the very heart of the relief efforts—the New Orleans Convention Center. Amid the chaos of helicopters landing and taking off, our teams worked night and day to bring relief to exhausted, sick people who had not eaten or received medical care for days after the devastating hurricane.
Caring for the most vulnerable: Many New Orleans evacuees were sick and elderly, with complicated medical conditions that needed treatment they could not receive in a normal emergency shelter. People with chronic medical needs were placed in special-needs shelters staffed by our medical volunteers and local medical workers.
Helping churches respond: Churches in the Gulf Coast were the first to respond to this disaster, opening their buildings to provide shelter, food, and other assistance to hundreds of thousands of people. In the days following the hurricane, we partnered with more than 50 churches in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida, providing funds, dispatching truckloads of health supplies, and sending volunteers to help shoulder the load. We continue to support many of these churches as they now help to rebuild their communities and provide hope to those who are returning.
8. How long will it the recovery phase take?
Recovery from a disaster of this scope will take years. Not only does the physical, external recovery take time, but the internal recovery of starting a whole new life also takes years.
9. How is Medical Teams International helping the people in the Gulf Coast during
the recovery stage of disaster response?
Housing reconstruction: Access to permanent housing is key to helping people recover from a disaster. That’s why our volunteers work with local churches to help families rebuild their homes in Louisiana and Mississippi. Even now, more than two years after the disaster, we are still sending teams to help with the reconstruction.
Trauma counseling: After a disaster, many people need help to cope with the overwhelming loss and suffering they experienced. To help churches and community groups respond to this need, we send volunteer trauma counselors to train local counselors.
Medical care: In addition to sending medical volunteers during the relief phase of disaster response, we support local faith-based groups providing medical assistance to disaster survivors in communities where people have no access to medical care or are too poor to pay for the care they need.
10. How are other groups helping?
Thousands of churches and businesses have sent teams to help people recover from the devastating disaster. Our country has not seen this kind of outpouring of compassionate care before. Everyone wants to help, to make a difference.
11. Can this kind of disaster be avoided? If so, how?
12. What would it be like to have your house and everything you own destroyed
in a disaster?
I’m only one person, but I can make a difference
Like the ripples in a pond, I can make a difference that will touch people around the world.
Learn more about how you can make a difference
Think about it
1. How can you make a difference by giving, acting, praying, or volunteering?
2. If you had $100, how would you use it to help people?
3. You can pray for people affected by disaster [PDF].