Hurricane Katrina: The Long Road to Recovery

December 12, 2005

With Gulf Coast residents and the insurance industry trying to recover from the country’s worst natural disaster ever, two Insurance Journal reporters set out to see for themselves the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

During the last week of October, Insurance Journal Online Editor Dave Thomas and New Media Producer Chad Reese traveled through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama obtaining first-hand videos and first-person accounts of the damage and how the insurance industry is answering the call for assistance.

Thomas and Reese visited with independent insurance agents, insurance adjusters, local officials, firefighters and residents to see how they are doing on their long road to recovery.

They visited with three independent insurance agents in Mississippi who felt Katrina’s wrath both professionally and personally. All three continue to serve policyholders, be it from a tent, trailer or limited office facilities as they work on rebuilding their own lives, too.

They saw block after block of decimated homes, deserted playgrounds and boarded-up business from Chalmette, Louisiana to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and beyond. That was not all that amazed them.

“Having watched the coverage of Katrina on TV back in late August and early September, I knew it was bad,” Thomas said. “I never fully realized how bad until we started driving through some of the neighborhoods. In some areas, it just looked like a bomb had been dropped from the sky. Despite this tragedy, I was also amazed at the spirit of the people we visited with and their desire to rebuild.”

Insurance Journal has created a special web site to share the videos, interviews and stories of their post-Katrina trip through the Gulf States. For Hurricane Katrina: The Long Road to Recovery, visit www.insurancejournal.com/katrina.

Among the video highlights on the Katrina site:

Taking it Personally
Mississippi insurance agent Aulton Vann knows all too well what his policyholders are going through as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Vann’s agency was damaged by flooding and he and his family lost their home overlooking the Gulf. Like many in Mississippi, though, Vann is determined to rebuild.

Going the Extra Mile Following Katrina
Mississippi insurance agent Scott Naugle probably never dreamed he’d one day be working out of a tent on a busy street corner selling insurance. Naugle, like many other Magnolia State businessowners, was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina. With his staff working within tight confines outside to meet the needs of their policyholders, Naugle spoke with Insurance Journal about the challenges he and his co-workers have faced, the personal losses of many Mississippi residents and more.

The Claims Keep Growing
Crawford & Company adjuster Mark Moon plans to be in the greater New Orleans area for some time to come, helping Katrina victims with their claims. Moon discusses the claims process and some of the challenges he faces in assisting residents.

Homes Destroyed One After Another
Chalmette, Louisiana resident Judy Lunt and her husband, Charles, could only look on in disbelief when they viewed what was left of their rental properties on one block in this Louisiana neighborhood. Lunt’s tragedy was made worse by an apparent arson of the properties weeks after Katrina hit.

Mississippi Big “I” Answers the Calls for Help
Mississippi Big “I” President Richard Davis had seen storms before, but never of the magnitude of Katrina. Davis talked with Insurance Journal in Bay St. Louis about the independent insurance agent association’s efforts to reach out to agents across the state.

Knowing the Agony of Policyholders
Mississippi independent insurance agent Dave Treutel talks from what was his own property about how much work is necessary to rebuild his family home. While the home is still standing, it is months away from being inhabitable again.

Firefighters Answer Call to Duty
For Gulfport Deputy Fire Chief Derek Ladner (Fire Station #7), Hurricane Katrina was like nothing he and his co-workers had ever seen before. With their station damaged by the storm, the men and women from #7 spent a number of harrowing days searching for survivors and doing whatever they could to assist people. Like many in Gulfport, Ladner knows there is much rebuilding work ahead, but it is a job he would not trade for anything.

A Fight for Survival
Ninth Ward of New Orleans resident Louis Legier, 80, and his 88-year-old cousin made a mad dash for a nearby school as Katrina’s flood waters swamped their street. Legier and his cousin survived, but his house didn’t.

A Neighborhood Destroyed
In New Orleans, Insurance Journal Online Editor Dave Thomas shows the destruction that hit one Ninth Ward block of homes, and the neighborhood school after Katrina roared into town. Few buildings, cars and other property escaped.

Many Years of Memories
In the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, resident Louis Legier discusses the devastation Katrina wreaked on his home. For Legier, life goes on and he will not let this storm ruin him.

Katrina Brings Life to a Halt in Mississippi
As Insurance Journal Online Editor Dave Thomas discovered in several Mississippi towns along the coast, Katrina spared just about no one. While some buildings were left standing in some shape, Katrina leveled others and unfortunately took lives with her.

This special web site, Hurricane Katrina: The Long Road to Recovery, can be found at www.insurancejournal.com/katrina/.

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