Group Helps College Students Prepare For The Ultimate Test

For some college students, it's hard to get prepared for class, not to mention a natural disaster like Katrina.

"Nobody was prepared at all, everybody I know lost everything. I never even thought to have a checklist," nursing student Heather Rouse says.

Rouse's boyfriend lost everything in the storm, including his birth certificate and important paperwork.

"How do you apply for financial aid, how do you apply for grants if you don't have anything to show?"

Operation Hope is equipping these college students with the tools for both sides of disaster. They're learning to prepare financially before, so they can quickly recover after.

"Before Katrina, people never thought it was going to hit here. And even now, people think it's not going to happen again. That's why we're trying to emphasize that you need to get this information together, not just for hurricanes, but for fire or anything that goes on," Operation Hope's Program Coordinator Amber Olsen says.

College students are a prime demographic to target because they often have the least financial experience. But even non-traditional students with families and full time jobs aren't exempt.  In fact, Olsen says we could all stand to be a little more prepared.

Here's what Operation Hope recommends for your emergency packet:

  • Marriage License
  • Home Deed
  • Car Titles
  • Will
  • An extra checkbook
  • Important Photos

"Anything that is necessary that you need to have that might be soaking wet, will all be in this packet dry and taken with you," Olsen says.

That's a test many students hope they don't have to take. But if Rouse does, she'll be prepared.

Operation HOPE's financial and emergency counseling services are available free of charge at their Gulfport and Pascagoula offices. Call them at 1-888-388-HOPE (4673), or visit their website at