NEW ORLEANS — Hurricane Isaac did not approach the vast destruction of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but it still displaced large numbers of residents in and around New Orleans. The storm has passed and volunteers are providing food and shelter to those now in need.
Hurricane Isaac caused serious flooding in rural communities outside New Orleans, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate.
Now, these Volunteers from AmeriCorps are helping coordinate the relief effort in some of those communities north of the city.
Most of the volunteers are recent college graduates who made a one-year commitment to serve in this government program. It provides disaster assistance and community service in the U.S.
Patrick Hess joined two months ago. He was helping rebuild houses in New Orleans destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when he got the call to help out with the current relief effort.
“I'm from Virginia. We don't really have to deal with hurricanes or earthquakes or any of the major disasters, really. So I've seen minor stuff but never something like flooding, like this,” said Hess.
For Samantha Perez, working at an evacuation center brings back memories. She's from the New Orleans area and her family had to evacuate during Hurricane Katrina. She said this is an opportunity to help others as she was helped.
“We got the call. We came out here, working nearly 16 hour days. We really feel like we're doing things, and we're doing what we came here to do, pretty much,” said Perez.
While working to the point of exhaustion, these young volunteers say they've gained as much as they have given to this relief effort, learning more about the world and about themselves.