Hurricane Katrina: 10 Years Later


There was before Katrina. And there was after Katrina.

The hurricane that roared ashore on August 29, 2005 – wiping coastlines clean and flooding an American city – changed countless lives.  Katrina changed Heart to Heart International too.

A PJ's night in New Orleans

Heart to Heart International’s response to Katrina became our largest and longest humanitarian effort to that point.
Before the storm had even subsided, HHI was mounting a relief operation, working with partners like FedEx and gathering supplies – water, medicine, medical supplies, hygiene items and more – preparing to drive and deliver them into the worst of the destruction.  People were desperately in need.  And HHI was going to help.

Read how HHI came to the rescue of Jefferson Parish emergency responders

For 18 months after the storm HHI worked along the Gulf Coast – New Orleans; Jefferson Parish; Slidell, Louisiana; Gulfport, Mississippi; Houston – providing medical care and supplies to so many communities in need.

Beyond delivering truck-loads of relief supplies, HHI mobilized medical professionals who volunteered their time to staff our mobile clinic. And we deployed a then-brand new Mobile Medical Unit which gave our team greater mobility to reach and treat the healthcare needs of people along the Gulf Coast.

Slidell Trip Gulf 05165

Our work in the early days and in the many months after, launched a decade of disaster and crisis response for HHI across the US and around the world.

See more photos from HHI’s time on the Gulf Coast after Katrina

The names and places are familiar:  the Sichuan Earthquake in China – the Haiti Earthquake – Joplin, Missouri – Moore, Oklahoma – the Alabama tornados – Superstorm Sandy – Hurricane Isaac – Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Philippines – Haitian Refugee Crisis – Ebola in Liberia – the Nepal Earthquake… and in so many more places big and small.

We rely on the support of donors and partners to make what we do happen and we can never have enough of that support.  It allows our medical teams to deploy into remote regions, it helps deliver hygiene items to shelters in the US, it helps keep our Operations Hub filled with emergency aid, and it even helps with disease prevention and training in places like Haiti.  Donations let us expand access to healthcare, help people in crisis and help heal communities.

We don’t want another Katrina to ever happen. But if it does – when the next disaster strikes – we will, we must, be ready to respond.

Katrina refugees in Houston

Heart to Heart Responds in Haiti

Photo credit: Reuters

New Photos below, just arrived from the town of Belle Anse, on Haiti’s southern coast.  Heart to Heart supports community clinics in the area…

Tropical Storm Isaac has moved on from Haiti, but its effects may long be felt.

Haiti is a country where a large section of the population hangs in the balance.  Their future dictated, many times, by the forces of nature: an earthquake, a tropical cyclone…

Fortunately, Isaac did not do great damage to most of the country, however in the South and in the Southeast he did bring near-hurricane strength winds and torrential rains.  Residents suffered the loss of homes (shelters), their livelihoods in the form of crops, and are now at risk of diseases like cholera rearing their ugly heads once again.

Heart to Heart is uniquely positioned as the lead NGO in the remote and mountainous Southeast District to respond to the needs of residents.  And we are doing just that – Responding!

Currently, Heart to Heart is coordinating with in-country partners to deliver relief supplies, in a replay of the supply chain that helped to stem the outbreak of cholera in this same area in 2010/2011.  And like then, it is imperative that these supplies reach these remote communities.

“There are no other relief groups in those mountains, we’re it,” said Heart to Heart’s Dir. of Operations in Haiti Josh Jakobitz. “And is always the case with diseases like cholera and natural disasters like Isaac, speed is of the essence. If Heart to Heart is able to respond, people live.”

Speed is of the essence.  So is your support.

Note:  Heart to Heart International is also following Isaac’s movement as it pushes into the Gulf of Mexico.  HHI is planning a mobilization to the Gulf Coast, as needed, possibly consisting of humanitarian relief supplies, medical aid and our Mobile Medical Unit.


Heart to Heart CEO on TS Isaac

Here at Heart to Heart we are keeping a watchful eye on Tropical Storm Isaac.  It continues to bear down on Haiti, with its sights set on the Gulf Coast.
Below is a letter, just sent to donors and supporters, from HHI’s CEO Andre Butler as we prepare to mobilize.


Dear Friends,

As of this writing, a tropical cyclone is gathering strength in the Caribbean and churning toward Haiti and eventually the U.S.’s Gulf Coast. The storm is named Isaac, and within hours we will know what damage the storm will bring to Haiti.

We at Heart to Heart International are following these weather developments very closely as we have friends, family and coworkers in Haiti right now in the path of this storm, along with the thousands of Haitians we serve.

Our Haiti staff will ride out this storm. They have made plans and storm preparations, as they continue to oversee the operations of the 12 community clinics we partner with and continue to support with volunteers and with medical aid.
These clinics are found across Haiti: in the capital of Port-au-Prince, in the Leogane area and in the very rural and mountainous SE District. All of these areas are in the path of Isaac and could very well be affected by the storm’s high winds, torrential rain and subsequent flooding.

From there, Isaac has set his sights on the Florida Keys, and then the Gulf Coast of Florida and Alabama. The storm is predicted to become a hurricane by the time it reaches the mainland.

We are preparing to mobilize the assets we have, including the Mobile Medical Unit, medical aid, volunteers and Heart to Heart Care Kits, to respond as needed.

Our mission in Haiti, our mission in the U.S., is to improve health and to broaden access to healthcare. Isaac may try to disrupt that. But with your continued support and assistance we won’t let it.

Please give now so that we may respond in the wake of Isaac, in both Haiti and the U.S., and prepare for the storms to come.

Andre Butler
CEO – Heart to Heart International




Here’s how to make a difference now, to help us prepare to respond: