I was outside on a beautiful, sunny day in Louisiana when my neighbor told me one of the worst hurricanes in modern history was coming. Considering the beautiful weather outside, my eight-year-old brain knew he must have been wrong. But he was right. Hurricane Katrina came for us. Residents of New Orleans thought it was safe until three days before landfall when Katrina changed course and charged towards my family and my friends.
This Presidential election too changed course and gave the United States a president no one expected. Hurricane Trump has made landfall and threatens us all. American prosperity sits tenuously in the small hands of a man marked by impulsivity, vagueness, and demagogic tendencies. Who knows if President Trump means what he says? Who knows what Hurricane Trump will do?
A lot of people, including my family members, stayed home for Katrina; the South had lived through plenty of storms before. Louisiana had not anticipated Katrina would be especially different, and no one knew the levees would break. Days before the landfall, meteorologists thought Katrina would be horrific, but no one truthfully knew the scope of the terror until after it hit. My dad saw the rooms literally shake as the storm raged, and he heard the pine trees snap. We underestimated Katrina, and my family was lucky to evacuate after the eye of the hurricane passed right over our home.
Americans should not underestimate a Hurricane Trump. We must shutter the windows and be ready for the worst tempest the United States has ever witnessed. Through every dark period in history, America persevered, but that should placate no one. This logic normalizes Trump by treating him like any other storm, but he is a lot worse. There will not be wind and rain but instead a gale and a torrential downpour. Additionally, we must not expect to survive. Survival requires strenuous labor and persistent will. American people sustained themselves against oppression though struggle and protest. We have weathered storms before, but only because we have fought to make it so.
Thousands of miles away from home, my mom tried to tutor me, and my brother enrolled in a new high school in the middle of a semester. Deep Southerners did everything they could to keep life moving. Even after my family returned, we had no electricity and went to the bathroom in buckets like a lot of Louisiana. Others in New Orleans had to fight against everything to stay alive. Sand bags helped, but when the flood waters came in, they climbed to the attic. And if that failed, they axed through the roof and looked for helicopters for help. New Orleanians embody survival, and soon all Americans must do the same.
When my family finally came home, we got lucky. The fallen pine trees lay around my house and not on top of it, and flood waters never entered it. Eventually my community returned to normal and no one thought about Katrina anymore. New Orleans experienced a resurgence and rebuilt, but the continuing aftermath of the storm remains untold. Rich, white communities rebuilt quickly, but many poor and black communities never could. Twelve years later, homes remain marked with FEMA spray paint, indicating who died in each house during Katrina. People displaced from the city never returned.
When we fight through this presidential term, the aftermath will persist long after America wants to move on. Trump will impoverish, permanently displace, and even destroy communities. The damage always continues even after the hurricane dies. When Hurricane Trump passes, I will pick up a hammer and start fixing our communities, but no amount of glue can reconnect the families ripped apart. Never ignore the lingering pain this storm will inflict, and never let anyone forget this dreadful period.
After Hurricane Katrina, individuals drove boats through the flood waters saving trapped people. They were not FEMA employees, they were simply local people determined to do good. We need to help each other to collectively survive Trump. If we fight against this president, fight against normalization, and fight to survive, America will withstand this four-year-long tempest, however scarred in the aftermath it might be. In storms before, I have slept in my living room to avoid falling trees, I have watched flood waters rise several feet, and I have witnessed a massive oak tree narrowly miss the front of my house as it crashed to the earth. Louisiana lived through massive storms in the past, and with enough effort, America will survive this hurricane.