Looking Back>Katrina 10 Years Later; Gabrielle Leonard

It doesn’t feel like we’ve already reached the 10 year anniversary of
Hurricane Katrina.

Everything still feels recent.

I remember where I was Monday morning, August 29, 2005.
I remember turning on the TV at 7:15 a.m. and watching the sky camera pan over a local market just a couple blocks from our house, fully submerged under water.
I remember walking down the hallway to my grandmother’s hotel room with my mom and sisters in Shreveport, Louisiana.
I remember her flushed face full of tears and watching her sit in shock as my mother consoled her.

But I don’t remember exchanging many words that day
and I don’t remember having many thoughts.

The only thing that felt clear in those moments was the confusion very present around me. It was a moment in my family’s life where even striving to control anything around us felt stupid and a waste of energy. I quickly became a spectator watching life play out before my eyes. I hated being forced to realize I had ZERO control over my life.

Katrina came with humbling winds.

I was forced to recognize that everything I strive for and/or attain here in this life could be taken from me in mere seconds. In a matter of seconds all my trophies from sports were lost, all my clothes ruined, our home uninhabitable, and our friends scattered different places around the country.

In 2005 my main goal was to gain acceptance into the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. I practiced diligently throughout the year for my fall auction. I was accepted into the school but was only a student there for a week when Hurricane Katrina hit. As my family and I began packing to leave before the storm, I remember thinking I was just getting a couple days vacation and would quickly return to become acquainted with my new school.

The plans I held for my life then didn’t take place but neither have many of my plans today. This doesn’t mean that working hard, dreaming passionately, and having goals are pointless. What made recovering from Hurricane Katrina hard wasn’t the fact that I had goals that didn’t get met, lost items that were valuable to me or that I was forced out my home town. It was hard because I had placed so much of my identity in those goals, in what I had and who I believed I was becoming.

Jesus used a physical storm to reveal to me how unstable life was for me because I was placing my hope and trust in everything besides Him. I’ve spent too many years placing my trust in my abilities, other’s approval, or what I have. It is exhausting and frankly I don’t believe any of us are made to carry such a heavy load.

10 years later Hurricane Katrina still feels fresh and she still teaches me today to let go and trust God. Our life is not our burden to bear it is His. The more I give control over to Jesus the more Joy I find in my life daily. Not because He grants my every wish or protects me from experiencing tragedies like Katrina but because He does what He has promised to do: Love me unconditionally.

Gabrielle Michelle Leonard currently lives in San Antonio, TX. She works as the Marketing Director for Chick-fil-A Schertz. Gabrielle received a BA degree from Baylor University in the spring of 2014.  At the time Hurricane Katrina, Gabrielle and her family lived in the lower 9th ward in New Orleans, Louisiana.  

Grace & Peace


About Jill English Johnston

God writes His story on every heart, if we only pause to read it. My heart has lived in a fantasy world since early childhood and am delighted that God has finally brought me to the place where I can bring the fantasies to life through story. I am currently working on a fantasy trilogy (of course) but I also post thoughts, reflections and (hopefully) inspiration to my website: tabletsofhumanhearts.wordpress.com I am a follower of the Rabbi Jesus, married to my best friend and inspiration, and the mother of three incredible children, one daughter and two sons, a son-in-love, a daughter-in-love and two adorable granddaughters. When not writing, I passionately pursue prayer, reading (never enough time to read them all!), and the outdoors. My husband and I both served in the US Navy and have lived/travelled through many states and all over Asia. We both still enjoy travelling, but we really love our home in New Braunfels, located at the Texas Hill Country.
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