ACP Chair Remembers Katrina +10

Bonnie CanalNews, Thought LeadershipLeave a Comment

Fellow ACP Members,

As many of you know, I am a proud native New Orleanian and with the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina I was asked to write a quick submission to our newest ACP website addition “member spotlight”. I look forward to reading each of your reflections as we move onward with this project.

Hurricane Katrina for New Orleans has become a clear line of demarcation. One says either before or after Katrina. There is no other way that makes sense.

I like many others awoke on August 28, 2005 to the first-ever mandatory evacuation of the city. I was fortunate, I had a car and a place to go. Many of my fellow citizens did not have this luxury as the news reports would show in vivid detail as the time moved forward.

As I have done so many times in the past, I packed for a 3 or 4 day evacuation. (Minimum clothing and money). After a 14 hour drive to Dallas (usual 8 hours) in bumper to bumper traffic, we prepared for the worse. The house soon filled with family, friends and pets.

I can so remember watching the news early on August 29th thinking we had dodged another bullet but how wrong I was. It was not long after noon that my phone started to ring. I heard first hand that the city was flooding. The frantic calls began, can we come, how do we get out, have you heard from, became my daily occurrences.    

I watched in horror the news reports, my fellow New Orleanians on roofs, bridges or any high ground to escape the rising waters. I listened to the politicians argue about the response and the value of our city until I could bare it no more. I knew then I was forever changed.

I returned home after spending 8 weeks in Dallas to what looked like another planet. Everything was grey and the silence was deafening. Not a bird, insect or animal was around. However I considered myself lucky. I had not lost a love one or my home. Many of my friends lost both.

Like many others I spent the next months in muck and mire up to my knees cleaning. I entered many houses trying to salvage some keepsake, always remembering I was the lucky one. I knew then I had found my passion. This should never happen again to anyone. Our great country owes much more to its citizens.

I want to be clear that New Orleans would not have recovered had it not been for the generosity of the average citizen. They came in droves, they worked alongside our community members, crying with them, sharing in their grief; while showing there was a hope for the future. We, New Orleanians cannot express our unending gratitude for these efforts.  If you are one of the many that came, THANK YOU! It is truly a humbling experience to be the recipient of all of your generosity.

 I would be so very remiss if I did not point out several facts about Katrina:

  1. For New Orleans, it was a man-made disaster. They levees failed.
  2. There was a plan, the City had one, the state had one and the federal government had one. Simply, they all failed. It was a complete systematic failure on all levels.
  3. The people who did not leave did not have the where with all to get out. That means money, transportation or a place to go. They stayed because there was no other option.

As I look forward in sharing some of the lessons learned the main thought is plans fail. No matter how much we plan, they are going to fail. We need to look for a different way. As the ACP moves forward, our goal is to lead the BCP Community. We want to be the thought leaders for our industry. So if you, your organization or chapter is doing something remarkable please share it with us. Together we can make a difference!

In closing I want to share with you the sentiments of our adopted son Steve Gleason in his video as he speaks so well for all of us. (Click here) (For more information on his work click here)

Thank you for your membership and continued support of our ACP!

Bonnie Canal
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