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Celebrating the Achievements of Children TM

Amazing Kids! of the Month

Amazing Kids! is proud to highlight the Amazing Kids! of the Month!

Each month, we showcase kids who are accomplishing amazing things.  We hope that by telling their special stories, we will inspire other kids to accomplish their own amazing achievements. 

Amazing Kids! of the Month for December, 2005:
Amazing Young Hurricane Survivors, Estelle Elementary School; Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

We at Amazing Kids! dedicate this page to all hurricane survivors, and the memory of those who did not survive...

Amazing Kids! is honored to be able to feature a very special Amazing Kids! of the Month story for December, 2005, highlighting the writings of hurricane survivors at Estelle Elementary in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.

Amazing Young Hurricane Survivors and Amazing Kids! PenPals, Estelle Elementary, Jefferson Parish, LA
Amazing Young Hurricane Survivors from Estelle Elementary School,
Jefferson Parish, LA;
holding their letters to their Amazing Kids! PenPals
at Action Day Primaries Plus Dance School from San Jose, California

Here, in their own words, are their:

 "Hurricane Chronicles"

Quotes of the Month:

"The city was like a toxic pool that never ended."


"When I evacuated from Chalmette, LA, I thought everything was going to be okay. I was wrong; we lost everything."


"Hurricane Katrina was like a mad bull raging everywhere!"


"Our parents wanted us to think it was okay, but we knew it wasn't."


"When my grandfather passed away (during Katrina) I felt so sad that I wanted to die with him."

"The Hurricane made my life difficult and my family's. I have three other siblings and now we all live in different places. We are separated."


"My Aunt Rosemary died during the storm. I need someone to talk to like a pen pal. It was hard to deal with."


"The storm affected me emotionally and mentally because of what I had to go through.  By being a victim of Hurricane Katrina really made me realize that you have to love and hold on to what you have because you might not have it anymore.  

"I think that by having a pen pal, it will make me have all this pressure lifted of my shoulders and will help me to cope with my problems that my family and I have gone through. I think that my story will help others to understand what a hurricane is really about."


In late August and early September 2005, tragedy struck the central gulf coast of the United States as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita wreaked havoc on the region and on the lives of its residents. Most of the nation, and much of the world, watched as the tragedy unfold on television, while many people in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama lost loved ones and friends, were left without homes or their personal belongings. Many were forced to move, either temporarily or permanently, to a different town or state.

Here are some of the personal experiences chronicled by the students at Estelle Elementary School in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, our Amazing Kids! of the Month for December, 2005.

Table of Contents

button The Hurricane Chronicles
  • Part I - Pen Pal letters from hurricane surivors at Estelle Elementary School in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, to their Amazing Kids! PenPals at Action Day and Primaries Plus Dance School in San Jose, California
  • Part II - True Tales, Reflections and Poetry by Students, Faculty and Relatives of Students at Estelle Elementary School; Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

button Read our related "Amazing Young Hurricane Heroes" story; our Amazing Kids! of the Month for March 2006
button Learn more about our Amazing Kids! PenPals program

Hurricane Chronicles, Part I: 
Letters to our Amazing Kids! PenPals from the students at Estelle Elementary in
Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

Here is an introduction by the teachers at Estelle Elementary School in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana:

"The Amazing Kids! PenPals for Hurricane Survivors Program is the lightening-rod that encouraged Estelle students to write their stories, in letter form, to share with a new pen pal friend. Estelle students have been corresponding with their Amazing Kids! PenPals from the Action Day Primary Plus School in San Jose, California.

"Estelle principal, Jackie Daniilidis met with students the week of December 5, 2005 and invited them to participate in the letter writing project. Mrs. Daniilidis engaged          students in brainstorming their feelings, and experiences, using a story web, graphic organizer. The next day, the students met again and talked about their ideas. Students then prepared a "sloppy copy" or rough draft of their letter. The third and final meeting was to proof and recopy their letters onto stationary and take a group picture.

"We hope that you will enjoy the letters that follow. This has proved to be a very worthwhile activity and bring something good out of the aftermath of the storms."

Estelle Elementary Students Pen Pal Letters:
Expressing the Impact of the Hurricanes on the Children

The Amazing Kids! PenPals for Hurricane Survivors Project -

"Being a pen pal is an opportunity for kids to show support in their own way, and let kids affected by the storms know that there are other kids who care about them and what they are going through."

Source: The Amazing Kids! Web Site

Dear Action Day Primary Plus School,

  Thank you so much! When I evacuated I wasn't worried at all because whenever people say a storm is going to hit it always turns to Florida.  But on August 29, 2005, New Orleans East and South Louisiana were hit by Hurricane Katrina.

   I went to Baton Rouge, LA, Breaux Bridge, LA, my aunt's house and my other aunt's house. I hated moving around so much. Finally, my mom was finished cleaning the house. She covered up the five foot hole in the roof when we came back. They are tearing down my kitchen, living room, and bathroom, as we speak. Right now, I'm going through a really hard time. Thanks for trying to make it better.


Dear Pen Pal,

  The Hurricane made my life difficult and my families. I have (3) three other siblings and now we all live in different places. We are separated.

  This was my first hurricane. My family had to put all of our belongings in storage.  The storage area was flooded  after Hurricane Katrina. All I have now is some of my clothes and a little blue tote. Everybody was sad because most people do not have houses now. Some families lost family members!  My family can't wait to get back together.  We, also, cannot wait to get New Orleans back to normal.

  Now that I have a pen pal, I can share my feelings and how the hurricane affected my life and others around me.  Maybe you can tell me about some kind of storms that happen in California?


Dear Pen Pal,

  During Katrina, I left two days before she hit. My family and I sat in traffic for sixteen hours. We were going to Texas, a drive that normally takes six hours to get there but during Katrina it took sixteen hours.  We were gone to my cousin's house.  When we got to Texas it was  3:00 o'clock in the morning.  So we stayed at his house for one month and then we came home and went to my house first. It looked fine from the outside.  But when we tried to open the door we saw that  the ceilings had crashed and that it got wet in my house.  So we bought a new house and lived happily ever after.

It would also, be nice to have a new friend, as a pen-pal.


How Hurricane Katrina Effected Me

The day I evacuated I was very sad. I took one more look before we left.  We were riding and riding. I was very sad that it happened. We evacuated to Texas.  When we got in Texas we watched the news.  The news said, "Katrina was a Category 5."  Then next day we went to school.  The kids were excited that they had someone from Hurricane Katrina. It was really fun. Then they had the storm Rita. I was so mad!  When it was time to go back to my home I was excited to go home.  When I got home I was so angry because they had mud on the floor and lots of things were on the floor with mud.  There was mud on the ceiling. Everything was destroyed. Now, we are living in Jefferson Parish. Everything is better. I hope everything is O.K. with you.  And now I want a pen pal to talk to when I am sad.


"The city was like a toxic pool that never ended."

"When I evacuated from Chalmette, LA, I thought everything was going to be okay. I was wrong, we lost everything."

Hurricane Katrina was like a mad bull raging everywhere!

"When my grandfather passed away (during Katrina) I felt so sad that I wanted to die with him."

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, as a Category 5, I went through the worst thing that has ever happened. My mom was very sad because she didn't know what to do and where to go. My grandmother woke up early in the morning. She saw that we were suppose to leave. When we left we went to all kinds of shelters. All of the shelters were not open.  Then we finally found a place to sleep.

When all of this was over my mom told me that I had to go to school.  I was mad. It just wasn't fair. But three days later before my little brother and sister's birthday, my grandfather passed away from sickness.  When my grandfather passed away, I felt so sad that I wanted to die with him.

If I had a pen pal, I would feel much better because I would have someone to talk to about my feelings and my old residence. That is why I need a pen pal.


I watched the news and then the news said, "One hurricane is coming to New Orleans." I was scared. We only had one week of school. I had to leave my birds in my home. I thought my pets were going to die. I was going to a hotel to stay.  When we were in the hotel, we went in the night. I went to sleep and the next morning the hurricane came. 

When the hurricane stopped, we had like three hours there. We got to our house and our house did not have anything left. The stores were not open. So I had to go to Houston, TX. We stayed there like three weeks. Then I went to New Iberia, LA to a new school. That school was good but I like this school more. The people there were nice. I stayed there about two weeks. My mom had to go work in New Orleans. So I came back here.

My cousin had a baby on  September 17, 2005. So I wanted to go to see the baby.  We went to Houston, again and stayed one week. We came back here and started school again. We need more stores to buy things.


When I was watching the news they said that the Hurricane would be a Category 5. My family and I all looked at each other. We all said, "Hurry up, we have to leave Friday night.!" Later we were leaving and we were in a lot of traffic.  But in ten hours we were almost in Texas. We could not find a hotel or a motel. They were all booked up.

When we left Texas we were on the way back to Louisiana. When I saw my house, I started to cry. I told my mom that luck is not just everything, family is love, luck and in your heart. But I was very sad about my house. Look what happened to my life.

If I had a pen pal I would feel much better because, I would have someone  to talk about my feelings and my family. That's why I need a pen pal.


Dear Pen Pal,

  I was sleeping one night at 2:04 a.m. my mom and dad came into my room. They were saying, "Get Up!." They were in a rush. I didn't know what was going on. I was scared. I had to leave a lot behind. I went to the city of New Orleans.  I snuck my dog Eva into my hotel. When we got home we were losing power piece by piece. We had a lot of water damage.

   I might have to live in a FEMA trailer. I want a pen pal to express my feelings. If I had a pen pal, I would write them everyday. We would be best friends. Please be my friend.

I need someone. Please write back.
Your Friend,


During and After Katrina

Hurricane Katrina made some of the old people in our family die. I felt scared and sorry. I was sad for what had happened. 

Looter's stole some stuff out of my house. And we had water almost fill up the house.  I am mad about  what happened to my house. I had to sleep by my Aunt Jovice's house in Morgan City, LA.

The storm hit my older cousin's house and they did not make it. When it hit our house, I was crying. When we went to check on our house, it smelled like mildew.  My Aunt Rosemary died during the storm.  I need someone to talk to like a pen pal.  It was hard to deal with.

I will write him or her, if I need someone to talk to or if I am lonely.  My pen pal will write to me if she has something to deal with. 

My grandparents died too. I wish they did not have such a thing as a Hurricane Katrina. I am grateful that my other part of my family did not die.


We are so grateful for being alive and having T.V. and new pen-pals. FEMA gave us money. Red Cross gave us food. Write back, so I can know all about you.


"Our parents wanted us to think it was okay, but we knew it wasn't."


"One more thing, we hope that everyone effected by the hurricane is okay, someday."

Raymond, Shaquille, Michael, & Kareem

Dear Action Day Primary Plus School,

  Once, I found out a hurricane was going to hit Louisiana, I didn't worry that much  because I've been through lots of hurricanes. When it was the day before the hurricane we found out it was very bad.

  When I left I thought for sure we would be back soon. But it didn't turn out that way. My family and I evacuated to Alabama. We stayed at a hotel for one week. It was very boring there. Then we went to Mississippi to stay at my aunt's house. There was no power. Everyday, I worried about my home and my friends. I had to stay at my aunt's house with no power for six weeks.

  After about six weeks, I got to go home. Once I got out of the car and saw my house, I felt the biggest relief. I think it 's a great idea for the pen pal thing because it will be fun knowing someone who cares.



Dear Action Primary Plus School,

 This is a very nice thing you are doing for us. When the storm hit us, I didn't know how to feel… I was confused. Our parents wanted us to think it was okay, but we knew it wasn't. You might have thought that the people on the bridge were poor and yes they were. But I'm not like them, I have all my stuff but it effected me on the inside. There are things that only other's can do. I was glad my house wasn't destroyed. When that happened I was jumping for joy, when I saw my house.

  When we were in Memphis, I was so bored! There was nothing to do there. The hills made me so sick, up and down, up and down.

Having a pen pal will help me a lot.



Hurricane Katrina

When I evacuated I felt sad because of Hurricane Katrina. When I got back I saw that nothing was wrong. Then I got a little better. When I got home my door was wide open and my refrigerator was gone. I thought that the hurricane did it because it was that powerful. Our house did not stink because our refrigerator was stolen. My Game Cube was still there and my television was  there. I thought that my house would be destroyed. I really need someone to talk to, like a pen pal.

A pen pal will be great for me. I would write him/her everyday. I could express my feelings to him/her.

I forgot to tell you where I went for Hurricane Katrina. I went to Columbia, Louisiana.


Hurricane Katrina

  I felt nervous about the hurricane because it destroyed our homes. Our families died and relatives were separated. Some died from Hurricane Katrina. We wish we didn't have hurricanes. We hope the world will have peace one day. One more thing, we hope that everyone effected by the hurricane is okay someday.

   We want pen pals so we can learn about a different culture. So we can learn what it is like to live where they live.

Ramond, Shaquille, Michael and Kareem

Hurricane Katrina

When I woke my dad was packing up. I asked him, "Why are you packing up?" "Well the news said a hurricane , Category 5 is going to hit. So if you want to get your stuff go get it." So I did get my stuff and I got my pillow and I hopped in the van. We prayed that the house would not be damaged. So I went to a new school. It was called Cypress Point. When I went back home it was horrible.

Dear Pen-Pal,

  The storm took our shed, some shingles and siding. I am thankful for having a house to go to. My daddy went home first and video taped the damage. I am grateful for not having lost everything or mold or a hole in my roof. Our home was not looted. We were in Baton Rouge, LA. with my cousin. We were in a rich neighborhood.

 When Katrina hit the power went out. I could not sleep. I was thinking about our house. I went downstairs and my dad was awake. I did not know but the power was out.  Katrina hit on my mom and dad's anniversary.

 I would like a pen pal so I can ask him or her what she would do in my shoes.


Dear Action Day Primary Plus School,

  This hurricane was so horrible, when I went to my aunt's house where we evacuated there were no kids to play with, no video games, and the only thing that I could do was watch "Dora the Explorer." I was so glad when it was time to go back but then I saw my home was destroyed!

  Now, I'm still staying with my aunt (boring) but now I am in school. Hurricane Katrina did so much damage you can't even imagine. But at least my family is O.K.!

  Thanks a lot for listening to this letter. If you ever have time please write back.



 When I evacuated from Chalmette, LA. I thought everything was going to be okay. I was wrong, we lost every thing. Even when I knew that our house was destroyed, I stayed cool. Until I got back. I didn't cry until my parents got back. I didn't get anything back.

 I appreciate everybody helping us out.  We evacuated to Dallas, Texas. It was a nine hour drive. We didn't get here until 2:30 a.m.  We stayed at my uncle's house for about five weeks.

 I think having a pen pal would be a nice way to get my mind off the storm.

That's my story.


How the Storms Affected Me

 Here in Louisiana, one of the greatest storms named Hurricane Katrina and Rita hit the United States.  It was a very strong storm.  When we evacuated we went to several places. First, we went to Texas. Then we went to Morgan City, LA, then Ameila, LA, then Alexandria, LA, and then we went back to Amelia, LA.  When they started letting people go back to their homes we saw that our house was damaged pretty bad. I am happy to be at my school and back with my friends.


Hurricane Katrina was a very powerful storm. I evacuated to Arkansas. We, my mother, my step-grandmother, my two aunts, Ashley & Anissia, and Ashley's three month old baby, Dashone, Jr. got a hotel room, at the Days Inn.

 We were all very frustrated by us having to move so quickly, and for us to even have to evacuate! Then we were all nervous to see our homes when we got back.  But when we did get back my mother's fences were down, and there was a big tree in front of our house, and in front of the apartment in front of our house. We were very sad when we saw that, but we are getting some money to fix it.


How the Storm Effected Me

  Here in Louisiana, Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita hit us, as their direct target. So it would be really nice to have a pen pal to send letters to. We are looking forward to having pen pals to write to and discuss our ideas.

  Some of the students in our school evacuated for Katrina. Some of the students evacuated north. I evacuated to Norman, OK. But here in Louisiana, the only place open twenty four hours is Walgreens. It is so hard to find food. Here in Louisiana, we are devastated. So we will be glad to write to our new friends and make new friends.


Hurricane Katrina was a very, very bad storm. I was a victim of the Hurricane. A lot of  people lost their lives in the hurricanes. Some people also lost their children. Some people went to Alaska, some went to Mississippi and some people didn't even evacuate.  I went to Mississippi and found this church and I stayed there for two weeks and then went home. We found out that my roof fell down and I was crying because my room was torn down that was horrifying.


I picked up this flag because it reminds me of my grandfather. He passed away, last Wednesday, after my birthday. It feels like he's still here. It felt weird because I would always be with him for every holiday. He always buys and gives me stuff on every holiday.

My Aunt Rosemary died during the storm. I need someone to talk to like a pen pal. It was hard to deal with.


I would like a pen pal so I can ask him or her what he/she would do in my shoes?"


The Hurricane made my life difficult and my family's. I have three other siblings and now we all live in different places. We are separated.


How Hurricane Katrina Affected Me

  I evacuated from Hurricane Katrina and went to Baton Rouge, LA. I went to school. It was fun being in a new school with new friends, they helped me with my work. Then at lunch you sat with your friends.

 I saw the Hurricane on T.V. and went home. It was a mess. It looked like a ghost town. My mom and dad cleaned the house and cut the grass. The house was clean, but the fence was broken.  The shed was broken and the trees were down. We had two weeks off of school.  I was happy my old friends were gone, so I made new friends.  Having a new pen pal, as a new friend would make life easier.


Dear Pen Pal,

 I felt sad because I didn't know if my house was destroyed. When I went down to my house it was all destroyed. We could get some stuff out of my grandma's house but not mine. There was mud everywhere.  My house was hit the hardest. My grandma was in Chalmette, LA . While my mom and I were in Arabi. I think  having a pen pal would be great because I would have somebody to talk to.


Action Day Primary Plus School

Hurricane Katrina was like a mad bull raging everywhere. The mayor was going out of  control. Mrs. Oprah said, "New Orleans should not look like this."

 The Superdome was a bad place for children. The damage of my house was my chimney fell and there was a leak in my room. I went to school in Stafford, Texas. The name of the school was Glover Elementary.  We had art class and I was the best painter.

Looters burned down the Mall. The city was like a toxic pool that never ended.

 I've read about California and your natural disasters are earthquakes. We can't feel earthquakes because of the marsh.

Janae' Jackson

The storm affected me emotionally and mentally because of what I had to go through.  By being a victim of Hurricane Katrina really made me realize that you have to love and hold on to what you have because you might not have it anymore.  

I think that by having a pen pal, it will make me have all this pressure lifted of my shoulders and will help me to cope with my problems that my family and I have gone through. I think that my story will help others to understand what a hurricane is really about.


Hurricane Katrina affected our lives. Our houses were destroyed. Some of our houses were flooded. Some of our roofs came off. Some houses had mold in them.

I would feel great to have a pen pal. We could talk together. We could share things together. We also could mail letters to each other.

I feel so happy that I am living in my house. But I am sad that people died because of Hurricane Katrina.  I am mad that people's clothes got ruined. I am sorry that people lost their homes.


I felt mad to leave my house. I evacuated to Hammond, LA where my grandpa lives.  When I came back my house was destroyed. The roof in my sister's room was down.  In my dad's room we had to take all the walls out.


Hurricane Katrina

One morning my mom turned on the news and they said that Hurricane Katrina was going to hit New Orleans and Marrero, LA. On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and Marrero.  It was unbelievable. Things were flying everywhere.  They had sand, mud, gas, and water all over the place. Hurricane Katrina was the most destructive Hurricane to hit New Orleans and Marrero, LA.

My family and I lost our clothing, shoes, jewelry and jackets. FEMA gave my mama a trailer. Hurricane Katrina was the worst thing that ever happened.


How the Storm Effected Me

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were some of the worst hurricanes ever.  My mom, dad, siblings and myself went to Texas in a hotel for about two or three weeks. Then this man asked us if we wanted to stay at his house he was selling. So we stayed there for the rest of September and then we went home and I couldn't live in it.

So having someone to talk to will be very good, so that will be a great experience.


How the Storm Effected

Here in Louisiana, Hurricane Katrina hit us. I did not like this. It was bad. We evacuated to my paw paw's then Sam's Town at the top of  Mississippi, second we went to my cousin's house in Baton Rouge, then to my other paw paw, last we went to my house. I was happy to be home.


How Hurricane Katrina Affected My Life

Hi, my name is Crystal. I used to live in a small town called Buras, LA before the storm. Before the storm, as I was sitting in class doing my work, as always then the intercom came on and announced that there was going to be a hurricane coming and that we had to evacuate.

Immediately, when I got home I told my parents that we were going to leave school for a whole week but we didn't take it very seriously because we thought that it would be just a small storm.  The next morning we evacuated leaving everything behind.  As we were on our way to Texas we were stuck in traffic for exactly sixteen hours. When we got there we were tired and hungry so we went to Burger King. When we sat down at the table we  saw on the T.V. that the hurricane was pretty bad.

As time passed, we were staying in Texas for a month, so my parents decided to put me in school. When I went to my new school people started teasing me because I was from Louisiana. A few weeks later we got to go back to Louisiana. We couldn't go home because where I live was wiped out. So I have to live with my aunt. My parents started putting me in my new school called Estelle which got me writing this letter.

I think it would be fun to have a pen pal, maybe even a new friend to share my feelings with.


Hurricane Chronicles, Part II: 
True Tales, Reflections and Poetry,  by Students, Faculty and Relatives of Students, written by the students of Estelle Elementary in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

One of the ornaments created by the Action Day dance school
"Sole Mates" Christmas tree project, showing a poem written by Krista,
a hurricane survivor in Mrs. Gilbert's 4th grade class at
Estelle Elementary School in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

Here's the poem below:

"Hurricane Katrina"
By Krista H.

Mrs. Gilbert's 4th grade class
Estelle Elementary
Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

It was a night
Like no other,
Katrina was coing
To us,
People moved from
State to state
Katrina was here.
She did damage from
Louisiana to Mississippi to Alabama
Some people stayed,
some left,
But all were affected.

Here's another hurricane survivor's observations, from Mrs. Rodriguez' 3rd grade class at Estelle Elementary School:

By: Lisa R.

Mrs. Rodriguez’s 3rd grade class
Estelle Elementary
Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

"The devastation and loss suffered by the people of Louisiana and our own Estelle families is hard to bare. Together is the only way we can all make it through this and begin the process of rebuilding our community."

By Alex S.

Mrs. Rodriguez’s 3rd grade class
Estelle Elementary
Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

"My family and I stayed in our house for Katrina. My brother and I were scared. My neighborhood was flooded and even a beagle got lost and was standing in our front yard. When Katrina was over, two days after the streets were dry we went to my grandparent’s house in Lafayette, Louisiana.

I was lucky to go back to a school called Green T. Lindon Elementary. All the people there were really nice and their lunch was really good.

Thank God we didn’t lose anything. I was very happy.

With Rita we were back home. We just lost power but we had a generator that helped us to see at night time, soon everything was back to normal."

The Hurricane Adventure
By Brandon L.

Mrs. Rodriguez’s 3rd grade class
"For Hurricane Katrina, I went to Pine Prairie, Louisiana and went to a camp site called Crooked Creek. I missed my house but camping was fun. I got to ride my bike around the park. I, also, go to go swimming in the creek with a small beach. After two weeks of camping Mom and Dad said they had enough. So we went to my uncle’s house for two days. It was fun! All we did was play video games. Then we came home to Marrero, Louisiana. We had minimum wind damage. Our whirly bird fell off and made a hole in our roof. And our whole back porch flew off and went into my grandma’s house. My trampoline did the same thing! The only reason I was happy is we had electricity. I couldn’t believe it. But I was happy to be home."

The Hurricane
By Alan V.

Mrs. Rodriguez’s 3rd grade class

"Before, Katrina my parents and I evacuated. First, we went to Arkansas. We stayed in a hotel. There we ate at restaurants. We stayed for ten days. After that we went to North Carolina. We stayed with my Paw Paw for ten days. There we had home cooked meals.

For Rita we stayed. I went to my Paw Paw, John. We watched movies. The tiles needed to be pulled up, so I helped my Paw Paw, John."

Terrible Hurricane
By Kim K.

Mrs. Jenniskens’s 5th grade class
Category 5
Hard wind, hard rain
Flooding very strong,
Terrible Hurricane

Two Terrible Hurricanes
By Victoria Lassiegne

Mrs. Jenniskens’s 5th grade

   "I am a victim of two horrible hurricanes. The first thing my family did was to prepare for the storm. We helped my mom pack our clothes. I spread out a blanket for my dog, and then put a big pot of water and two bowls of food out for her in the garage. I also put out her favorite toys.

    We left. We went to Baton Rouge and lived with my cousins in their apartment when Katrina hit. Then we went to Breaux Bridge and stayed in a trailer or two weeks. I went to a school there for two days. I cried so, my Mom kept me home.

    Finally, we came home at the end of that week. We got back, we had to live with an aunt for a week, then another aunt for a few more days. Soon, we were able to go to our house. Everyone treated us very good wherever we went.

    We lost a few things, but at least I still have my family, and that is what is important."

Reflections of a Storm: “Oh! Whatever, Will I Do?”
by Carol Thompson

August 2005

Carol Thompson is an Estelle grandparent. Her grandson, Gavin, is in Ms. Linda Hubert’s class. Mrs. Thompson wrote this poem while she and her family were evacuated during Hurricane Rita.

Mrs. Thompson lives in Lafitte, Louisiana. Her home made it through Hurricane Katrina, but when Hurricane Rita pushed water up Barataria Bay, Carol lost everything.

The wind is really howling.
The rain is coming down,
It’s dark, It’s quiet,
The calm before the storm.
Is it really our time?
What do we do?
Did we make someone mad?
Do we have to pay our dues?
She’s knocking on our door,
Do we have to let her in?
They say she’s mass destruction,
Oh, whatever will we do?
Her wrath is so exacting,
Her destruction, so frightening!
The dawn of our destruction.
Oh, whatever will we do?
She’s determined to come,
An uninvited guest.
She’s knocked the door down!
Oh! Whatever will we do?
She’s left us all behind,
To deal with her destruction,
Oh! Why did she come?
This uninvited guest.
Oh, whatever will we do?
Why did she do this?
Were we really so bad?
To pay for our transgressions?
Did she hate us so?
Oh! Whatever will we do?
To lose all you have,
Is really hard to do,
You don’t know where to start.
Oh! Whatever will we do?
So, you start at square one,
And you work your way through,
Is your family safe and alive?
Then you can think things through!
We have to start over,
What else can we do?
A lesson is to be learned
Nothing is forever!
Carol Thompson
August, 2005

A Survivor’s Tale
by Huey Bethancourt,
father of Dylan Bethancourt

How the West Bank of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana became the most livable/valuable property remaining in Jefferson Parish

"Hello, my name is Huey Bethancourt. I am a building engineer at Meadowcrest Hospital in Gretna, Louisiana. I have lived to tell you a story that I will never forget. I stayed here when Hurricane Katrina came to New Orleans.

Being on duty at Meadowcrest Hospital, during Hurricane Katrina was a huge challenge for all of my co-workers and me. On Monday, August 29, 2005, in the morning hours, I watched in amazement as 140 mph winds took the roofs off of nearby apartment complexes. Small buildings were tossed about. The only structures that could withstand the force of those winds were made of cinder block and heavy metals. The wind, rain, and hail pummeled the area. The canals were rising and the levees within the parish were being breached in some areas and over topped in others.

After the Hurricane there was only one way in and out of the city of Gretna—Hwy. 90 through St. Charles Parish, Louisiana. The West Bank became an island surrounded by water. Some might say that those of us who stayed and worked to keep the hospital going are heroes. I felt it was my civic duty to do everything I could to support life in this statewide crisis.

It was quite a challenge staying focused on the reality of things, when you are faced with so much adversity and confusion, as a result of such a catastrophe. Lives were lost. Your friends, co-workers, and family members suffered damage to their homes and businesses.

Believe me, regardless of what anyone may say, our public officials tried their hardest to do the best jobs they could under some unusual and traumatic circumstances. Let’s not blame others for what went on. We must be strong and look to the future. It is important to learn from the past and move on with our lives and rebuild our city. The Greater New Orleans metropolitan area must work together to rebuild, we must work as a team. The goal is to make our children’s future and the futures of all generations to come better."

Tears of Joy
by Takyra L.

Mrs. Schneider’s 2nd grade class
The tears of joy have come to me.
My eye were filled with dread.
I let go when I cry.
I think of my family when I am scared.
The tears of joy have come to me.
I am free.

The End of the Hurricane
by Samuel A.

Mrs. Rodriguez’s 3rd grade class

The End of the Hurricane
The wind was rough,
The rain was strong.
The hurricane was here.
Wind picked up a building
Blew it across the city.
the water flowed so high
the city was under water.
It was raining like crazy.
Boats were cracked in half,
Cars were smashed, buildings tossed.
Many innocent lives were lost.

"Our home had two holes in the roof. Fortunately, my family and I evacuated to Orange, Texas. We stayed there for a month and rented a house. I went to a school there called Anderson Elementary. Things were just starting to seem a little bit normal again, when Hurricane Rita sent us evacuating again. Now, I am at my old school with my old friends. There’s a lot of work to be done here, but I am glad to be home."

The End

When New Orleans Got Clobbered
By Matthew Winesberry

Mrs. Jenniskens’s 5th grade

    "We were stranded on the rooftop of our house. The house was flooded Alligators were surrounding us. My sister fell into the flood water, she was a goner.

    "This is the fake story that I decided to tell everyone when we evacuated to Memphis, Tennessee. The real story is much more boring. Although, I will tell you, if you want me to.

    "It started when were watching the news carefully eyeing the Hurricane Katrina. By the time it had reached the Gulf Coast, we had left for Tennessee. We stayed there the entire time while our house was getting beat up by the hurricane. When it was finally over, we went home, and rode out Hurricane Rita. Our house was fine."

Hurricane Katrina Had Other Plans For Us & Our Lives Have Changed Forever:
Musings of an Evacuee
By Jackie Daniilidis,

principal, Estelle Elementary School
September, 2005

Disbelief is tangible.

I see the pictures but friends who have gone back say “the pictures do not do the magnitude of the tragedy justice.

It is hard to talk about.

I am living the life of an evacuee in Grenada, Mississippi.

I am humbled by the acts of kindness that I see each and everyday.

I am angry that this has become a political issue along party lines. How dare anyone point fingers and lay blame!

It is time to take care of the people, the pets, to clean up, to assess the damage. Now, is the time to plan how to never ever let such a devastating annihilation of an American city happen again.

There should be no question, as to “Should New Orleans be rebuilt?” I feel like belting out, "I will survive!" for the city of New Orleans.

New Orleans is a bawdy old southern belle. Just as, Scarlett O’ Hara, vowed in Gone With the Wind that ‘Tara would rise from the ashes’, so will the City of New Orleans, rise from the rubble and ruin. She will thrive and once again reign, as a unique, colorful, and inviting city.

I, truly, know now what it means, as the old song goes "to miss New Orleans." Poboys, hot sauce, coffee & chicory, red beans & rice on Mondays, grits, fried seafood and the hot sultry sounds of rhythm & blues.

I try to spend time counting my blessings.

I know, I will have greater compassion for those less fortunate. I vow to be more patient. I know I will be a better listener.

I am so thankful for all of the generosity extended to my family. I look forward to passing acts of kindness along to others, who are in need.

I want to return to my school family. I miss our students, the staff and the wonderful school I left behind.

I long to go home!

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