You probably know a hurricane is a large, powerful storm that
can cause a lot of rain and wind. Everyone pays attention to
hurricanes because they can be dangerous, but you might remember
that Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita were unusually strong.
They caused many more problems than most hurricanes.
Some hurricanes come and go and really don't cause much more
trouble than a bad thunderstorm. Others may damage homes and cause
some flooding that goes away on its own. But Katrina was so strong
that the damage was very bad and it caused the deep flooding you
probably saw on TV. Hurricanes Rita and Wilma also caused a lot of
damage from flooding and wind. With all three of these storms, some
people were evacuated and returned home soon after. But others,
especially those affected by Hurricane Katrina, had to move away
and start a new life in another place.
Hurricane Katrina seriously affected the states of Louisiana,
Mississippi, and Alabama. Rita hit Louisiana and Texas. Hurricane
Wilma affected Florida. All these states are along the coast of the
Gulf of Mexico in the southern United States. Though hurricanes can
cause problems away from the coastline, usually the most serious
damage happens along bodies of water, such as oceans or rivers.
Especially with Hurricane Katrina, you probably saw some scary
images on TV. You may have seen kids like you evacuating in cars
with their families, being rescued, or sleeping and playing at
Could It Happen to Me?
Many kids won't be directly affected by hurricanes, but
it's normal to have questions or worries. You might wonder if a
big hurricane could happen where you live.
Hurricanes are always a concern, especially for people who live
near a coast, but most hurricanes are not as dangerous as these
three. Also, when a hurricane is on the way, weather forecasters
can predict which areas will be affected. Based on that, cities and
states can tell people to evacuate - to move out of the storm's
way until it's over. Many people were able to leave the areas
most affected by recent hurricanes. That meant they were safe with
friends or family, or at hotels.
You may have heard some people call a hurricane a "natural
disaster," but what does that mean? A natural disaster is
anytime weather or nature causes big problems, like a hurricane, a
tornado, an earthquake, or a tsunami. Depending on where a person
lives, there's more risk of certain kinds of natural
But wherever you live, it's important to remember that there
are lots of people looking out for you. In a bad storm or other
crisis, this would include not only moms and dads, but also police
officers, firefighters, doctors, nurses, and other people who are
trained to handle emergencies. You've probably seen these
people on the news, too, handing out meals and bottles of water,
and tending to people who needed help after the hurricanes were
What You Can Do
Seeing these people being taken care of can make us feel a
little better. But what else should you do if you're feeling
worried, upset, or just curious about what happened with the recent
hurricanes? Here are some suggestions:
Talk about your feelings.
It's good to be able to
share what you're feeling
with a parent or another trusted adult. It's OK to ask
questions and wonder about why this happened. It's also OK to
feel sad, even though you don't live in one of the damaged
areas. Attending a fundraiser for the hurricane victims can help
you feel better. Get a few extra hugs from your mom or dad,
It may sound funny, but drawing a picture or writing a poem can
be helpful in sad times. Why? Because you get to express how
you're feeling. You even might use your creative ability to
make cards to send to rescue workers or people affected by the
hurricane. Your kind thoughts just might cheer them up a
Turn off the TV.
It can be hard to avoid TV reports or newspaper photos of all
that's going on in the hurricane-damaged areas. But too much of
it isn't good for kids or grown-ups. Remind your mom and dad
about this, too. What can you do instead? Anything - go outside,
read a book, make a craft. You also might just count your
blessings. What's that? It's when you take a look around
and notice all the good stuff - the sunshine in the blue sky, your
family, your favorite song on the radio, your best friend, and your
Only a few days after Hurricane Katrina, some kids near
Philadelphia opened a lemonade stand to raise money for the
victims. Other kids collected teddy bears at school. In Maryland,
three sisters (ages 14, 11, and 8) came up with an idea to send
backpacks stuffed with coloring books and other treats for kids who
It's a great idea to find a way to help. Not only does it
help people who need food, clothes, and shelter, it helps you feel
better because you're lending a hand. You might raise money or
gather supplies through your church, school, or local fire
department. If your school doesn't have plans for a fundraiser
yet, maybe you can be the one to get it started.
Know that healing will happen.
Now, you know it's normal to feel sad about big hurricanes,
even if you're fine and live somewhere far away. You should
also know that these sad feelings you have will get better over
time. And hard as it is to believe, even the people who lost the
most in the hurricanes will feel better someday. It will take a
long time, but they will slowly heal thanks to the people who care
for them during this sad time.
In most cases, people can go back to their houses, clean up, and
restart their lives. But with Hurricane Katrina, the damage was so
bad that a lot of people had to go to new towns. Some will
eventually go back to their hometowns, but others might stay in
their new cities and states. Maybe you will even meet someone who
had to move because of a hurricane. If so, be kind and make
friends. It will take a lot of good people to help the hurricane
victims find the strength and courage they need. Maybe you can be
one of them!
Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: May 2008
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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