Among all the heartbreaking stories unearthed by Hurricane Katrina, one man’s tale summed it up for me. He’s the personification of the hurricane as far as I’m concerned.Harvey Jackson and his family were waiting out the storm in Biloxi, Miss., when the hurricane split their house in two.
With Mother Nature’s most powerful force, winds lifted his wife, Tonette, toward the heavens.
Holding on to his wife’s hand with every last ounce of strength in his body, his wife let him know that he wasn’t strong enough. She told him to watch over their children and grandchildren, and she flew into the fury of the storm.
In that instant, that man knew a fear and a sadness that many of us will never face. For the rest of his life, he’s going to blame himself for his wife’s death. He’s going to think he wasn’t strong enough, even though he was fighting against the forces of God himself.
And that’s just one story that has come out of the aftermath in the Southeast.
These are the kind of stories that drive people to help others in need. Just like after Sept. 11, therehas been an outpouring of support and charity to the victims of Katrina.
People give their pocket change, their allowance, or even their paycheck to relief organizations in hope that they can help the victims we watch suffering nightly.
Disasters like Hurricane Katrina bring out the best in people.
But reacting to a disaster like this isn’t our true test. It is easy to give money to New York City when the television is full of images of the collapsing World Trade Center.
And it’s easy to donate to the Red Cross when we see the city of New Orleans underwater.
Giving during these tragedies is easy. It’s giving in between tragedies that separates us from each other.
But these organizations work around the clock. Tragedy or not.
The American Red Cross does not only need blood when bombs are going off. The Salvation Army does not only need money when cities are flooded.
In high school, I went on a couple mission trips to Latin America. It’s easy to empathize with people in need when they’re staring you in the face.
It’s hard to remember that feeling several weeks later.
I’m not saying it’s unimportant to give now. On the contrary, it is extremely important.
I want you to give. Ten dollars. Twenty dollars. One dollar. Anything could be everything to someone who has lost his or her home.
And, of course, I want you to pray for the people who are dying and for those who have lost family members.
I want you to do that now. I want you to do the same later.
This story will go away. Even something like 9/11 went away. We still remember, but we only remember when we are reminded.
The news stations will find another news peg for September and October. Katrina will move from the top story, to the second, to the third. From the first 15 minutes of the newscast to the last. From daily updates to weekly ones.
The story will go away. The aftermath won’t.
In one month, we’ll have moved on, and the money will stop coming in. But, after we’ve moved on and the flow of donations has ceased, New Orleans may still be underwater.
That’s all I’m saying. Remember Katrina now. Remember Katrina later.
Give now, but don’t forget to give later.
Drew Irwin is a senior economics and broadcast journalism major from Dallas.