Through the Eye of the Storm

Devastated by Katrina and ignored by FEMA, these people pulled themselves out of disaster and never gave up hope.

Air Force pilot, United Airlines captain, embedded war reporter--Cholene Espinoza has lived many lives. After 9/11 she felt lost, and her once-strong religious faith faltered. When Hurricane Katrina struck, Espinoza was determined to help. Through a chance encounter with storm survivors from DeLisle, Mississippi, Espinoza discovered people who were stronger than the obstacles and losses they faced. She made more than a dozen trips to DeLisle with supplies and funds, and witnessed first-hand the power of love and community. Espinoza became transformed and her faith was renewed. Her book, "

Through the Eye of the Storm

," excerpted below, tells of the strength of the human spirit. Proceeds from the book will fund the Pass Christian/DeLisle Community Center.





In 2005, Mississippi was ranked last in an annual “Most Livable States” study for the seventh year in a row. According to the Morgan Quitno Press, the study is based on forty-four factors ranging from infant mortality rate to per capita income—which was $26,650 at the last U.S. Census Bureau estimate, and that was when times were good. It’s no wonder the Mississippi state patron saint is Our Lady of Sorrows.

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“I know Mississippi is ranked last in a lot of things. But there are a lot of us who are workin’ hard to change things,” said Ms. Rebecca Endt, who teaches world history and psychology and coaches volleyball and softball at Gautier High School. “Workin’ hard” was an understatement.

I had the opportunity to visit Gautier High School. Myrick Nicks and Anthony Herbert are the assistant vice principals. They, along with Principal Bernard Rogers, the rest of the administrative staff, and the teachers, are committed to educate and mentor the young adults who will ultimately lead Mississippi out of last place. Almost six months after the storm, they had not been given additional financial or material resources to cope with the added stress of the storm. They were making up the difference out of their own pockets.

When I met Principal Rogers, he had just come from buying some school uniforms for his students on his lunch break. Myrick and Shantrell also shopped in the evenings and weekends in order to clothe the needy students.

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Cholene Espinoza
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