Disability, General Questions, History, Medicare, Survivors

Ten Years Since Hurricane Katrina

August 27, 2015 • By

Last Updated: August 27, 2015

A makeshift Social Security office is open in the aftermath of the destructionTen years have passed since Hurricane Katrina, a Category 3 storm more than 400 miles across and with sustained winds of 100-140 miles an hour, made landfall.  The storm devastated the coastal regions of Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana.

“We are public servants first.  No one hesitated to volunteer.  Everyone just started doing what they could to help those in need.  That’s what Social Security is about.  It’s who we are.”

Katrina’s surge overwhelmed protective levees near New Orleans, and the resulting floodwaters covered almost 80 percent of the city.

Many New Orleans residents evacuated ahead of the hurricane hoping for the best. Those that remained in the city fled to nearby shelters. Rescue teams worked hard to reach others who were trapped and unable to reach safety. A lack of cell phone service and other basic communications infrastructure made staying in contact with loved ones difficult. In the chaos, family members began desperate searches to find missing relatives.

As one of the first organizations to respond to the crisis, the Social Security Administration (SSA), began organizing immediately to meet the needs of those who couldn’t access their benefit check, those who lost their identification documents, or those who tragically lost a loved one in the storm.

SSA transported 171 volunteer employees from across the nation to join those employees who were still serving the public despite many having lost everything in the storm themselves.

SSA quickly established six portable offices in southern Louisiana, in addition to mobile support units charged with providing direct service to those housed in shelters.  Many New Orleans residents were bussed out of the most affected areas of the city to Houston’s Astrodome, where they had access to a variety of government services, including an onsite Social Security office.

Offices from Dallas to Houston, across Louisiana, and Arkansas opened early, closed late, and remained open over the weekend. Social Security employees worked extended hours in the first few weeks after Katrina, as they ensured those who needed service received it.  SSA employees sent hundreds of care packages to those in shelters and brought toys, coloring books, and clothing to distribute to those visiting Social Security’s offices.

Social Security employees are dedicated to serving the public, whether the storm is an unprecedented hurricane or one of the many storms of life.  As one staff member put it, “We are public servants first.  No one hesitated to volunteer.  Everyone just started doing what they could to help those in need.  That’s what Social Security is about.  It’s who we are.”


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Sarah Schultz-Lackey, Regional Communications Director, Dallas

Sarah Schultz-Lackey, Regional Communications Director, Dallas

Comments

  1. Barbara Starr

    Was very disappointed that you failed to mention the Gulf Coast and the victims. Was raised on the Gulf Coast and personally saw the death and destruction from Bay St Louis to Biloxi. New Orleans wasn’t the only place affected!!!!!

    • Susan Taylor

      Barbara Starr, I completely agree. I would add that Mississippi and Alabama lacked media coverage because there was no looting or race baiter so in either state.

    • Sarah Schultz-Lackey, Regional Communications Director, Dallas

      Barbara,
      I absolutely agree with you. Hurricane Katrina battered the coastal regions of Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana. In fact, in the first paragraph I acknowledge these areas as being “devastated” by the storm.
      Thank you for your response.

  2. Martin Downey

    Thank you,
    We get so much press how little is done..

  3. Susan Taylor

    President Bush evidently did something right. Social Security is a Federal Agency. I am glad to finally hear something positive that “the government” did under his leadership rather than criticism. How could FEMA have been any better prepared for this catastrophe without having purchasing, stored, and updated a gigantic inventory of mobile homes which would be completely ridiculous. There were several Federal agencies that were there promptly and assisting greatly in the New Orleans area under President Bush’s leadership. I do agree with one of the comments above – Mississippi and Alabama were kicked to the curb. But only because the media covered the New Orleans area the way they did.

  4. Fehmida Nasreen

    I have no comant Becose I live in Pakistan and we ,me and my 19years old Son wantas to live in USA .and I have no relatives there.I not working there .My Son not Steady there .What can I do to permenant residence in Amiraca?

    • g m carr

      First, you need a skill/profession where and how you can support yourself and family. Second, learn English where you communicate with other Americans. Third, apply for a visa and then apply for legal citizenship if you still want to be an America. Stay out of trouble and not be a parasite to our society..

  5. MJean

    A disaster much worse than Katrina will hit every American if the National Debt continues to rise!
    It is well over $18,000,000,000,000 now and goes up Billions Every Day!!

  6. lucinda

    I am happy to hear that you “were” there; especially in the Astrodome; useful??
    I went to Arkansas a month after the displaced were housed in camps throughout the state. Social Security was not very helpful at that point. Yet there were over 7,000 displaced persons who still needed aid of all types. I was a paraprofessional social worker, at the time, and I spent hours and hours dealing with Federal Agencies like yours in order to assist these persons who lost everything.
    Shame on you for promoting yourself as doing soo much.

  7. Kelvin Reese

    Neighbor cheating me to move,and on disability

  8. eliedith

    I am glad you were there for the people in Louisiana and the Gulf. Louisiana is the birthplace of Eli Manning and he was there too giving out water bottles, food, and essentials to storm victims. Chapeau!

  9. George K

    The National Media and others continue to talk about Katrina and the impact on New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina hit The Mississippi Gulf Coast , hundreds of miles from New Orleans. The New Orleans tragedy resulted from the Lake Pontchartrain Surge from the indirect winds from Katrina and the failure of the Levees because of inadequate monitoring and maintenance by the several government agencies and the local leadership.

  10. Mississippi resident

    The difference between new orleans and mississippi after the storm was the news coverage. Also alot of Mississippi residents didn’t even have a house to go home to. Flooded or not. Nothing was left. 10 years later it is a shame that my town is ignored again and again. Very frustrating the lack of knowledge of people who ignore the coast. Plus the residents here didn’t have time to scream we need help. We all were too busy helping neighbors, our community and strangers with the devastation. Hard work. No water. Lost my job. No electricity for 2 weeks. Home repairs. Parents home repairs. Salvation army help. Volunteers. Mold. Roads destroyed. Bridges destroyed. No grocery stores open. Etc. Etc. Memories after 10 years seem like yesterday and it leaves a pit in my stomach that all people care about is nnola. MS coast….strong and proud of our hard work!!!!!

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