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At a glance: United States of America

Surviving Hurricane Katrina: One child’s story

© UNICEF/2005/Nybo
Justin Dean, 10, stands in front of his family's apartment. Floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina submerged the first floor and rose to within a few feet of the second floor bedroom where Justin's family had taken shelter.

By Thomas Nybo

BILOXI, Mississippi, 9 September 2005 – Ten-year-old Justin Dean survived the rising floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina by taking refuge in a second-story bedroom with his mother, stepfather, four brothers and two grandparents.

When the storm hit this city, they watched with fear as the water crept up the stairs towards the second floor. It eventually reached the eighth step, stopping only a few steps short of the top.

The family lost their vehicle, their refrigerator, most of their clothes and most of the children's toys. More than 10 days after Katrina struck, their home is still without electricity.

Helping children cope

While it is essential to ensure that adequate food, water, medicine, sanitation and shelter are available for everyone affected by the hurricane, UNICEF believes that it is also imperative to mitigate the impact of the disaster on children.

UNICEF has found that, in times of disaster, getting children back to a learning environment is one of the most effective ways of helping them to feel safe, cope with trauma and begin their emotional healing. Some may need counselling. 












8 September 2005:
Ten-year-old Justin Dean describes how he and his family survived Hurricane Katrina.

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Frontline diary

UNICEF's Allison Hickling is working as a volunteer in Texas. Read her account of the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

Wednesday 7 September – Searching for loved ones

Tuesday 6 September – Evacuees at the Reliant Center

Monday 5 September - Volunteering to help in Katrina’s aftermath

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