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Hurricane Katrina volunteers reflect on relief efforts in Ida aftermath

Years later, members of a local church group look back on a service trip to New Orleans.
Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 6:48 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 30, 2021 at 6:57 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - As Hurricane Ida battered Louisiana, memories of the New Orleans area came flooding back for Sarah Iverson.

“You start to identify places,” said Iverson. “You see the devastation in a different light. Not as some far-off thing but a place that you walked, you’ve been, and you know someone’s name.”

In the mid 2000s, Iverson worked as the Directory of Youth Ministry at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. She traveled with a youth group three separate times to assist with relief in the years after Hurricane Katrina.

“It’s very possible that some of the work we did is no longer there,” said Iverson.

Sally Haskins was one of the youth volunteers in 2008. She helped to build homes with the Habitat of Humanity in the city of Slidell, a smaller community outside of New Orleans.

“I could not believe how much destruction was completely evident,” said Haskins. “Some places looked like they hadn’t even been touched.”

She remembers getting to meet the woman who the group was working to build a home for.

“She was still a way away from having an actual livable home, but she was just so grateful and so thankful and it made all the work worthwhile,” said Haskins. “It’s just a small thing that you can try and do, but it can mean the world to someone else.”

Haskins says that woman and her family are on her mind now as she watches the damage Ida left behind.

“Everyone was so hospitable and that really sticks out in my mind. If we could give anything back, that’s what I would want to do,” she added.

Iverson says the trips to New Orleans also provided perspective for the young students.

“It does remind you that we’re all human. We’re all more precarious that we like to think,” said Iverson. “It definitely got to the core of what it is to be human for one another.”

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