I remember when the storm first hit Florida, causing flooding and destruction across the entire state. After looking at the photos and coverage from Hurricane Katrina, many thought the storm was over.
I heard from multiple news outlets that the storm lost energy after slamming huge amounts of rain, wind and damage to Florida. I listened to the news. Like others, I thought the storm was over but it was not.
It was just beginning.
On Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina changed the lives of many living across the southern Gulf Coast region of the United States forever.
Ten years ago, I was entering my seventh grade year at Siwell Middle School in Jackson, Mississippi, roughly two hours from the Mississippi Gulf Coast and three and a half hours from New Orleans.
I did not educate myself on all of the details and storm patterns about Hurricane Katrina at 11 years old. I knew that the storm brought damage to Florida and it gained more energy in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Knowing this information, listening to my teachers at school and hearing my parents talk about it, I knew things would get bad but I did not think they would get that bad.
While central Mississippi did not catch nearly the wrath of destruction as New Orleans and other surrounding areas, the storm made its presence in Jackson. For me, it was like nothing I had ever seen before.
Now, 10 years later, my perspective on the storm has changed. After observing the 10-year anniversary at the age of 22, Katrina was not just a catastrophic storm. It changed the lifestyles of so many people.
At 11 years old, pictures, news reports and live video from the storm were just mere things that I could not understand in depth. Now, I realize the media played a major role in shaping the feelings and emotions of citizens in the U.S. as well as the world.
Listening to online reports, watching news segments and looking at old pictures and old newspaper headlines, the media shaped U.S. citizens’ perception of this hurricane.
As journalists, it is our job to report the news and keep people informed with information they need to make the right decisions. Some of the images shown, however, were so emotionally charged that things became overwhelming.
I can only imagine what it was like for people who were directly affected by the storm and seeing the daily media coverage of what took place.
Hurricane Katrina is a classic example of showing how powerful the media is in reporting and engaging people with news and information.