News and Events
Remembering Hurricane Katrina: One Year Later
The most destructive hurricane on record to hit the United States struck Louisiana and Mississippi wreaking catastrophic effect in New Orleans and elsewhere on August 29, 2005. One year later, much of the storm-ravaged region has begun to recover some level of normality. Areas are seeing a slow trickle of returning residents, and with each familiar face, neighbors' morale improves. Although there remains a tremendous amount of work to be done before the devastated region regains its pre-Katrina state, support from caring citizens nationwide who continue to dedicate their time and energy to assisting those in need makes a great difference.
Pepperdine jumped to action directly after Katrina hit the region. The University rallied students, faculty, and staff members to help by donating to Pepperdine University's "Wave Relief" program which raises funds to provide care, resources, and goods for those affected by Hurricane Katrina. The University also encourage the University community to participate in service trips to the region, associated with either Pepperdine or another organization. Through funds raised in these endeavors, members of the Pepperdine community have organized and participated in five service trips to New Orleans, all dedicated to assisting the city's residents in their recovery efforts. This year, students will return once again to New Orleans with Project Serve over the student's spring break in February. Pepperdine plans to send another group of students, faculty, and staff members to the region during this year, the service trip date has not yet been determined.
Volunteers mucked houses -- stripping the structures down to their basic framework -- and bonded with residents. The experience helped renew the residents' hope of beginning again, as well as their strength to continue rebuilding. This spring, Pepperdine hopes to send another group of students to the region in conjunction with Project Serve, the yearly student-led service trips coordinated by the Pepperdine Volunteer Center.
Recent Seaver College graduate Justin Schneider participated in one such trip this summer. He emphasizes that the hardest hit areas of New Orleans are still in desperate need of help. Recalling his trip to New Orleans this summer, Schneider describes seeing a shrimp boat, washed on shore during the storm, still stranded in someone's front yard. He saw many houses that had floated across channels over 300 yards away from their original place, now sitting on top of cars, untouched.
"Pepperdine and other parts of the United States have answered the call of fundraising, but I am most proud of the people of Pepperdine who have served with their own hands, the people who were hit by Katrina," said Schneider. Noting the continued effort of Pepperdine students to travel to the region and partner with local churches and other groups in reconstruction efforts, Schneider comments, "It makes my heart leap because these are the people who are freely giving what is needed. And it's not easy work."
Days after Katrina hit land, Pepperdine held prayer and worship services open to the University community. In one session, people read stories of Pepperdine individuals affected by the hurricane. On Friday, Sept. 1, 2006, Pepperdine faculty, staff, and students reported on relief efforts in New Orleans carried out by members of the community at a prayer service held in Stauffer Chapel. Members of affected communities will remain in prayers and thoughts in the days and months to come with the hope of a stronger, renewed region.