top of page
  • Michelle Pichon

Hurricane Katrina – Nine Years Later

Coastal Women Coming Home's Colette Pichon-Battle, actress and activist Jane Fonda, Katrina Warriors Representative and Ashe Cultural Arts Center's Carol Bebelle, and Eve Ensler at press briefing

It was nine years ago, but it was yesterday. It is today.

Hurricane Katrina changed life in the Gulf States in many ways and forever. Nine years later I am still seeing the effects of this disaster. But I also see people dedicated to the continued recovery from it. When I look at these dedicated people, you know what I see? Women. Women Warriors who fight for their communities, for their families, and for recovery.

Katrina, like other mass disasters, are gendered events. In the aftermath of disaster, Women often have to be strong, even when they’re scared to death. Women lead with their hearts as well as their heads. Women are healers and comforters. They are on the frontlines responding to and recovering from trauma. All too often, during times of catastrophe women are portrayed as victims. I am here to tell you, women are not just victims of disaster. We are soldiers fighting our way through it and leading others out of it as well. Nine years later, because I am still here, I think it’s high time the Women Warriors of Recovery from Katrina be brought front and center.

There were, and still are, several women-run CBO's (community based organizations) in the Gulf region that stepped up after Hurricane Katrina and are still fighting the good fight today.

  • Advocates for Environmental Human Rights – New Orleans, LA

  • Bayou Grace – Chauvin, LA

  • Center for Fair Housing – Mobile, AL

  • Coastal Women for Change – Biloxi

  • Greater New Orleans Organizer's Roundtable– New Orleans, LA

  • Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy – Slidell, LA

  • Immaculate Heart, CDC- Benndale, MS -

  • Mary Queen of Vietnam- NOELA Health Center – New Orleans (East), LA

Many women celebrities supported the efforts immediately following Katrina. Oprah reported live from the Gulf Coast a few weeks after Katrina. And she’s reported to have given Sandra Bullock has played an active part in the rebuilding of Warren Easton High School, the historical public school, which sustained $4 million in damages during Katrina. Since then Bullock has donated substantially over the years to help Warren Easton rebuild. The opportunity for these students to succeed is what motivates her continued involvement with the school.

Three years after Katrina, Eve Ensler, of the famed Vagina Monologues , brought the “V-Day” anniversary, The V to the Tenth celebration in April 2008, to New Orleans “Love Dome.” The event provided activism training, health education, and specialized services to the residents of NOLA, for whom she also premiered and directed “Swimming Upstream”, a collaborative work in which women tell their tales of Hurricane Katrina and the floods.

Ensler chose New Orleans not only to highlight the ecological ruins--mainly wetland depletion--left by Hurricane Katrina, but to honor the Gulf Coast women working to support the region's women and girls. V-Day calls them "Katrina Warriors."

All of these women, and more, stepped up to the plate when times got hard. No fear. Only fight. And love. It’s like Des’Ree’s song says,

“You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser

You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger

You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together

All I know, all I know, love will save the day”

It was nine years ago, but it was yesterday. It is today.

Related Posts

See All
bottom of page