JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - More than 80 Jackson County students just finished a book that captures how their community survived Hurricane Katrina. On Friday, students at East Central High School donated their book to their public library. Their gift stirred up a lot of memories and emotions.
The pages revealed the shock and fear felt by South Mississippians who lived through Hurricane Katrina. Students took turns reading excerpts like 'We were watching the water rise from inside the church. It was devastating' and 'We could have been electrocuted just by walking on the carpet.'
Those personal stories are now documented in a new book titled "Through the Storm." U.S. History and English students at East Central High School spent three weeks interviewing storm survivors and sharing their experiences.
The assignment gave them a deeper appreciation of the storm's impact. After all, they were only nine or 10-years-old when Katrina destroyed homes and lives.
"It was terrible. It was a huge disaster and a lot of people lost their homes, including my grandma's sister. She lost her whole home," said sophomore Joshua Freeland.
"It was kind of surprising to me, because I mean, I went through Hurricane Katrina, but I never really understood how bad it was because I was just a kid," said sophomore Johnathan Roach. "I remember sitting at my grandma's house and wondering what everybody was worried about."
The students donated the book to the East Central Public Library. The librarian said the stories brought back memories.
"Just so many people lost so much, I kind of feel guilty. I didn't lose a thing, but I had friends who did, and it was very sad," said librarian Helen Barlow.
The emotions, trials and triumphs of Katrina can be found in the 155 page book.
"They have an emotional attachment to this and it goes beyond learning," said U.S. History teacher Phillip Busby. "Later on, they can show their kids that they were part of history and they were able to document it. It was really impressive that we were able to put this together."
"It makes me feel happy, because letting those younger people read about what older people went through and how they helped us," said Joshua.
"I think it's good, because it will promote storm awareness so more people will be saved," said Johnathan.
Next year, the History and English students will work on another book and donate it to the library. That project will feature everyday heroes like police officers and firefighters, cancer survivors and longtime educators.