Hurricane Katrina Survivor Shares Lessons Learned in Disaster

Hurricane Katrina Survivor Shares Lessons Learned in Disaster

KMIR

Palm Springs, CA

Jeff Hocker lives in Palm Springs. While he’s far from the devastation in Houston he’s among the few who  know what it’s like. 

"You just feel like there’s nothing you can do to stop it from happening and you just have to figure out what is my best way to to survive this," says Hocker.

He says seeing the images from Hurricane Harvey takes him back to Mississippi and Hurricane Katrina that devastated the Gulf Coast, "It’s really hard to see those images because what people don’t realize in some cases especially when it relates to flooding you lose literally everything."

He was staying in Gulfport with his sister, who just had a baby. He says the winds and rain were intense  but the storm surge was the game changer, "It’s scary, literally, you’re not really sure what to do because as the water starts seeping, all your furniture starts floating and you have to seek higher ground." 

That’s when they got out. Their car was their only shelter, they spent days on the side of the road. But that’s where they learned the power of kindness. 

"You hope that there’s going to be help but in a lot of cases you have to really fend for yourself and be there for each other and that’s when we started helping other people and that’s when we started helping other people as well and in many cases you’re empowered by helping other people." 

He says Katrina changed him forever, but for the better, and you don’t have to survive a hurricane to make a difference, "You really realize that helping people is the most important thing and if you can do that everyday of your life in just a simple i think it will make a better community and a better world for everyone."

Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath claimed the lives of over 2,000 people and displaced 1,000,000. 

Join KMIR News for a special, drive up fundraiser, Helping Houston, on Thursday  from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at our studios in Palm Desert.