Hurricane Katrina Hits Home for Some Students
Students reflect on hurricane damage to their hometowns.
September 1, 2005 4:52 PM
As the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina's wrath is assessed in much of the South, SF State students from that region worry about their families back home.
Hurricane Katrina slammed into Florida as a Category 1 and trailed into Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi on Monday gaining momentum to a Category 4 with winds as high as 140 mph. The damage is extensive in four states, and many cities and towns were left severely flooded. Many people were killed and over one million were left without power. Katrina could be one of the most costly storms in recent history, according to state officials.
SF State student Erica Murray was in Florida when Katrina first hit land. The 19-year-old hospitality management major said when she looked out of the window of her family's home in Miami she could see how strong the winds were blowing because all the trees were moving in the same direction. The next morning, she and her family saw leaves everywhere, tree branches outside their front door and a couple of uprooted trees.
"Hurricane Katrina was definitely an unexpected surprise," Murray said. "It wasn't as bad as Hurricane Andrew back in '92, but it did a lot more damage than anyone expected it would."
After hours of cleaning up, Murray said she and her family drove around to calculate the total damage.
"Everywhere we drove there was nothing but trees turned over which broke down fences, walls, and some major flooding," she said. "We drove around in a parking lot and saw a tree had fallen over and took up the curb, and landed on the back windshield of a Cadillac. There were also signs that had fallen off and shattered on the ground."
Diana Wong, an 18-year-old marketing major, said she has watched this kind of destruction on television, but it has never hit this close to her hometown of Morgan City, which is west of New Orleans. She said her family was safe but many of her friends in Mississippi have no homes to go back to.
"I have been relentlessly trying to reach my friends who stayed for the storm, but I have not been able to contact them yet. I do not know if they are dead or alive and I am deeply worried," Wong said. "The Gulf Coast was like a second home to me, and now it's barely there."
Scott Hutton said he thinks his family's home in Louisiana might be flooded.
"I heard that a nearby hospital has seven feet of water on the first floor," the 21 year-old kinesiology alumnus said. "I can only assume that my house has just as much water."
With home and cell phone lines down, 19-year-old nursing major David Chan said he was not able to reach his family back home in Alabama. He was initially worried when Katrina became a Category 4 hurricane but found out Katrina only left minimal damage in his hometown of Mobile.
"I called a family friend and he said my family was fine. My family went to a friend's house to play Ma Jong [a Chinese card game] to pass time since all power was out," Chan said. "This is not the first hurricane my family has endured so it was a piece of cake."
Dennis Naquin said he has not been able to reach his family or friends in his hometown of New Orleans since Friday. He hopes his family listened to the order for a mandatory evacuation.
"We get hurricanes every year around this time," the 18-year-old student said. "I've evacuated so many times in the past couple of years for false alarms. Everyone kept saying that we are due for a big hurricane. That's what we got."
If you wish to donate to the National Disaster Relief Fund for victims of Hurricane Katrina, please visit the Red Cross website at Redcross.org
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