As writers, we’re only half the equation. Storytellers speak to a vacuum if no one’s on the other side, reading what we write. As a nation—a global nation—we need all the stories. People to write them, and people to read them.
Ten years ago, on August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, and although many children survived that storm, many have not recovered. Here’s a synopsis (slightly edited) of a recent report:
“A child that was seven years old when Katrina hit will be 17 today. Today, that 17-year-old is more likely than his same-age peers in all but two other cities to be both unemployed and not in school.
“In the first nine months after the storm, families moved an average of 3.5 times. One in five school-age children were either not enrolled in school or missed more than 10 days a month.
“Five years after the storm, 40 percent of children still did not have stable housing. Thirty-four percent of children had been held back in school (compared to a 19 percent baseline in the South). Some estimate that more than 90 percent of dislocated students didn’t learn for a year.”
All those kids—the Katrina kids—have had an interrupted and subpar education, but it might not be too late. With enough political will, the state and country could still help these kids to become healthy, educated, and productive citizens—people who read, people who write. People who have stories to tell.