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Hurricane Katrina: After the Storm

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: June 16, 2008, from the August 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

After August 29, 2005, those who live on the Gulf Coast knew that their lives would never be the same. Whether this was due to the emotional baggage that resulted or to the continuing life stressors that have occurred in the aftermath, one year later, residents and business owners are struggling to make financial and emotional ends meet.

Round two?

Since Hurricane Katrina struck, much has changed in the affected towns, but even more has remained the same, causing those who decided to stick it out to wish for healing and closure. Unfortunately, as the 2006 hurricane season began on June 1, many felt like these will be a long time in coming. Threatened with another six predicted hurricanes, Gulf Coast locals are preparing for the worst, while hoping against hope that lightning won’t strike twice. The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted four to six potentially major hurricanes—Category 3 or higher—for the North Atlantic region.

However, the area is not ready—both physically and emotionally—for another storm. Chuck Kelly, owner of Chuck Kelly Salon and Spa in Gulfport, Mississippi—one of the hardest-hit coastal areas—doesn’t even want to think about it. “Even if we have a near miss, it will do tremendous damage to people’s psyches,” he says. Since the original article, which appeared in the December 2005 issue of Skin Inc. magazine, Kelly notes that much has stayed the same, with housing and staffing being the biggest issues. “Life is not a lot of fun right now,” he adds.

Although many cities in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana were devastated by Hurricane Katrina, none was more impacted than New Orleans due to breaches in the town’s levee system and its bowl-shaped topography. Because of the amount and extent of the damage, the city has so much to lose if another storm were to hit. Stanley Goldenberg, a meteorologist in NOAA’s hurricane research division, believes, “There’s no reason why New Orleans can’t get hit by another major hurricane in 2006.” Sam Brocato, New Orleans native and chairperson of the National Cosmetology Association (NCA) Disaster Relief Fund/Katrina efforts, disagrees. “A hurricane of this magnitude didn’t hit for so long that I don’t believe there will be another huge storm for a while,” he states. “If New Orleans gets hit with a healthy Category 2 storm, it will be contained, but it still will be such a blow to everyone.”

One year later: The French Quarter

Brocato is referring to the survivors who have remained in the area and have helped in the rebuilding efforts for a better New Orleans. Sandy Blum, co-owner of Shine Spa + Specialties and Spa Aria in the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter, was one of those survivors. When interviewed approximately six weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit, her outlook was positive. At the time, Blum said, “I feel that I am one of the chosen and blessed ones needed to rebuild this great city.” After a year’s time, she continues the fight, although she admits that it can be an exhausting and disheartening one.