Senior puts trauma of Katrina in past


Matteo Danforth

Hurricane Katrina shaped senior Genesis Williams to “live in the moment” and appreciate how precious life is to her.

Angel Gonzalez

No power, sweltering summer days, falling trees and pole lines, collapsing houses, rushing water full of debris. Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc for several cities along the Gulf Coast.
Deemed as one of the most destructive and deadliest hurricanes to ever occur, Katrina caused an approximated 1,836 fatalities and $108 billion of damage in August of 2005.
A week prior to this natural disaster, Alabama residents were warned with hurricane drills informing them to prepare for the Category 3 hurricane heading their way.
Senior Genesis Williams was only 8 years old when Alabama was hit by Katrina, a catastrophe that ended up being one of the worst moments of her life. Now, 10 years later, Williams uses this traumatic experience as motivation to cherish the little things in life.

“We (had) been through many hurricanes before,” Williams said, but in a situation like Katrina, “all we (could) really do is hope and pray.”
Williams had woken up to most of the damage already being done. Bewildered as to why it was so hot, she remembered that they were in the middle of a storm.
Having to stay inside, she waited hours in her powerless house patiently with her family, doing what she was told. She stayed away from windows, obeyed her parents and tried to keep hopeful thoughts in mind.
“I don’t remember all the details as much as I would have when I was 9,” she said. “You don’t forget something like that, though.”
Worried and afraid, even at a young age she was not only concerned for her own life, but for the lives of her family members. So that’s how she spent her day, isolated in a house with her parents, two younger sisters, and the apprehension caused from waiting for the hurricane to pass over.
It lasted the whole day, beginning in the early morning and ending by the late evening. Despite her house’s screen door was broken, and areas around her home were flooded, the Williams made it out okay.
“I remember a lot of people coming out, checking if everyone was alright and seeing if anyone needed help,” Williams said. “People were just making sure (that) everyone was okay.”
Seeing as she could have lost her life, she allows herself to reflect back on Katrina, “but we have to keep living our lives.”
Since she was exceptionally young, her memories of Katrina are things that normally one would not expect to remember. She remembers sensory details such as the water, the people who helped them afterwards, or the damage done to her neighbors’ houses. Individuals who have been through such a traumatic experience all deal with trauma differently.
She remained strong through the aftermath and refused to let the questions ‘what if?’ haunt her, a good method that has benefited her in shaping to be the person she is today.
“You can’t really hold on for things so long, you just have to heal those woundsup and keep going,” she said.

Katrina definitely left a large impact on her life but Williams has used it to her advantage rather than bringing her down. She lives in the moment, seeks positivity out of everything and lives life with a ‘can do’ attitude.
Regardless of having experienced this hurricane in Alabama, she still considers it home. Though she has lived in California for seven years now, she’s naturally inclined to Alabama. She has even applied for some colleges there.
“You can’t run away from mother nature,” she said. Williams will be graduating high school in a few more months to continue her life, more details slipping from her memory as she grows up, but 2005 will always be memorable for Williams.
“I’m just really blessed my whole family made it.”