Home » Katrina – I’m No Exception {Part One}

Katrina – I’m No Exception {Part One}

Ten years ago.

I recently watched the ABC special with Robin Roberts documenting the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. She shared how in New Orleans and the surrounding communities everyone refers to life before and life after Katrina.

No one’s life has been the same since Katrina swept through southern Louisiana. Even my granddaughter, Emma, who was only two when Katrina struck was affected.  I remember taking her with me one day to Chalmette in St. Bernard Parish to our relief center there. We were driving through the Ninth Ward and she started crying.


“What’s wrong baby girl?”

“I don’t like Katrina.”

“Why honey?”

“She broke everything! Everything is broken.”


I cried because I felt the same way.

Katrina broke everything.

Many times I would hear people say the experience broke things that were in the process of breaking and made things stronger that were already strong.  “Things” is the word that was spoken. The unspoken definition of “things” – people and relationships.

It is truth.

Hurricane Katrina affected millions – that is how many stories there are to be told –  and I pray there is not another like it .

My story is one of them and it is still being written.

But one thing I know for sure:  I would have been yet another Katrina casualty had it not been for God.

After Katrina, I found myself working as director of disaster relief for  a year and a half.  When that ended,  I had lost most of my community of friends and found myself questioning everything I had always believed to be real.

What was/is real?

I must have asked God that question a thousand times.

Having heard thousands of stories of survival and rebuilding and restoration, I found myself completely at a loss.

Empty.  Going through the motions.

A son was married, a new granddaughter born. I attempted to maintain the facade of a life, but my insides were crumbling. I didn’t know what to do.

And then . . .the unthinkable happened . . .to me . . .

Five years after Katrina entered my life, my husband left. The external “storm” moved inside in a way I never imagined possible. The broken became even more broken – shattered.  The pieces – irreparable.

The next five years became ones of survival as more tragedy visited my doorstep.

The tragic death of my niece’s husband followed by another unbelievably tragic story resulting in my mother’s death. 

How is it possible to recover and rebuild a life through all of these personal disasters? Hurricane, divorce, and death.

One step at a time is what many people would say.

Yet, I have learned it is one prayer at a time along with one step at a time  – with God holding me.

I learned so much listening to the stories of those with whom our volunteers worked.  Estimates show we organized projects and provided housing and food for over 15,000 volunteers in that time, and we heard story after story from those with whom our volunteers worked that life can take away EVERYTHING we hold precious:  homes, possessions, jobs, families,  friends, communities, and even ourselves.

Yes, Katrina broke everything.  It took so much from so many, including me.

And life has done its best to break me.

What happens next? What does life look like through the broken? What does life look like in my own feeble attempts to rebuild? How do we reject so much when the truth is changed? Changed? How is that possible? Where do we find the truth that has never changed since the beginning of time?  Where is God? Who is my god? Is God my God or is another someone or something my god?

God, please hold me close as these questions are unrelenting. How can I ask the same question over and over and hope for a different answer? Calm my mind. Still my heart. Open my eyes. Let my ears hear the sweet sound of your voice.  Soothe the broken edges deep within me. Let me rest. Heal my heart. Hold me closer.  I love You. Amen

{to be continued tomorrow…}

3 Responses to “Katrina – I’m No Exception {Part One}”

  1. Nellie Caldwell says:

    My Sweet Dear Janet, through all the “brokenness” God has continued to use you in a mighty way. I’m so thankful that my granddaughter, Emily, found you. You made and continue to make such a huge impact on her life. You have touched people all over the world, especially in Honduras. God has molded you into a fine vessel for Him. I so admire you for the strength you show and the courage that it takes for you to “go on” in the face of many struggles in your own life. Your example is such an inspiration to all of us. Keep up the good work and know that your efforts are not in vain. Can’t wait to keep reading your blog. Love you, my friend.

    • Janet Reeger says:

      Dear Nellie, your words touch my heart so deeply. You know I love Emily and am also grateful she came into my life. Your kindness in letting our family stay in your home when we evacuated for Katrina will always be remembered. We appreciated it so much. I still pray you and Cindy and Emily can return to Honduras and spend time with us one day. Your support and encouragement are precious to me. Life is such a journey – a huge part of it is the friends who share it with us. Love you too. Thanks for reading.

  2. […] {This is Part Two of three part series. Read Part 1 here.} […]

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