Hurricane Katrina: 5 years later

Five years after the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina that flooded his New Orleans home and devastated it to the point of no return, Myrtle teacher’s assistant and assistant coach Todd M. Sherman has happily made his new home in Union County and has made a new list of family and friends.

 

Sherman, born and raised in New Orleans, was at home when he first heard the news about the hurricane turning into a Category 3 and the storms coming towards New Orleans.

On August 28, 2005, Hurricane Katrina was in the Gulf of Mexico where it powered up to a Category 5 packing winds estimated at 175 miles per hour. The next day Katrina hit landfall in Louisiana and eventually hit New Orleans and parts of Mississippi.

“Normally I ride the storms out because most of the time when a storm comes, it’s not too bad and after you pack up and leave your house, the storm is gone and you have to come back home and unpack all over again. But, when I saw that the hurricane reached a Category 4, I knew it was time for me to go,” Sherman said.

He had just enough time to grab come clothes and a few belongings, including his microwave, and hit the bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highway.

“Once I got out of the city limits, I was in the middle of nowhere. I was directed to a shelter in Greenville, Miss. and from there I stayed at several Salvation Army shelters for two to three days at each location,” said Sherman.

Sherman called Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and they paid for him to stay at a hotel in Tupelo for a short amount of time. He told the people at FEMA that he wanted to relocate because there was no home to come back to in Louisiana. They paid for him to stay in an apartment in New Albany and soon thereafter he started working at Myrtle Attendance Center through a hiring program that had been set up by FEMA.

He said, “Once I got to Myrtle, I did not know anybody and it was quite different than the school I had come from. The kids said ‘yes ma’am’ and ‘no ma’am’ and ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’ and seemed to have more manners and I liked that. I started volunteering at the school with basketball and cross country and the coaches really made me feel at home.”

After a year was up, the funds ran out for that program set up through FEMA and the school, so Myrtle created a position for him and gave him an opportunity for him to stay in Union County. He worked with different sports and helped out in different classes. 

“I find it refreshing that people still want to help other people. I like this area, I like Union County, and the people I have met here are like family to me now,” said Sherman.

Sherman returned to his home in New Orleans a month after Hurricane Katrina hit and saw that everything in his nice two-bedroom house with basement was flooded with water and destroyed. He lived in the Seabrook area of New Orleans, across the railroad tracks and not too far from the ninth ward, one of the worst areas that sustained damage from Hurricane Katrina.

The storm was quite large, with hurricane-force winds extending 105 miles from the eye, and tropical storm-force winds extending over 230 miles. About 180,000 homes were under water during the flood.

Katrina will be recorded as the most destructive storm in terms of economic losses.

“It is not a good memory for me, but it has been five years and it is time for me to talk about it and move on, looking forward to the future. I have family and friends all over the place and a lot of them are still bitter about the situation they are in, but I am really lucky to have ended up here in Union County and to have met such nice and respectful people,” said Sherman.

Sherman is a teacher’s assistant and monitors study hall for grades 7-12. “In study hall, I try to make the atmosphere very pleasant for the students to study. Some teachers come in to help tutor some students in certain subject areas too,” said Sherman.

He is also a former basketball coach, is the assistant for cross country and is the track coach at Myrtle. He is returning to college to obtain his certification in elementary education while taking online and night classes from Blue Mountain College.

“I like dealing with kids, I like motivating and encouraging them to make positive choices, helping them focus and try to get them thinking ahead for their future and make future plans so they know what they will do after they graduate from high school,” said Sherman.

 He lives in Ripley with his wife and attends St. James Church of God in Christ Church. His hobbies include watching TV, keeping up with sports, and taking care of his plethora of dogs, including his many American Pit Bull Terrier dogs.  

About Chris Elkins

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