On August 29, 2005, a hurricane with the strength of a category 4-5 hit the Gulf Coast with winds of 120-200mph. In Mississippi ,Katrina’s storm surge was 48 feet near the “eye” of the storm, 25 feet near Ocean Springs and 28 feet near Pascagoula.
Over 200 people died, more than 50% of the roads were destroyed, most bridges were wiped out and 200,000 homes were destroyed in this area of the Gulf Coast. Immediately after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast shiatsu practitioners from the Kyoto and Tokyo Centers in Japan, from Madison, New York, Toronto and other Centers gave Charity Shiatsu treatments to raise relief funds. Over $1,000 was sent to the US branch in Madison to be distributed to Gulf Coast people recovering from the disaster.
The Tao Sangha and Akanishta Buddhist Centers in Madison worked with a volunteer in Ocean Springs, MS to learn what people in that area needed. Members of the two groups received lists of immediate needs from 7 families who had lost almost everything in the storm, then gathered the items together and decided to “adopt” these families and look after their recovery and well-being.
On Thanksgiving weekend 2005, a truck was loaded with beds, household items, stuffed animals and care packages for the 7 families in Mississippi. The funds raised from Charity Shiatsu were put to good use providing all new beds and pillows for these families.
A Madison Tao Sangha member visited New Orleans and the Mississippi families in January of 2006, bringing more supplies and giving shiatsu treatments to them. At that time, most of them were still living in FEMA trailers provided by the government or in their own trailers while they rebuilt and repaired their homes. Some, like the Dartez family lost everything and had to start over.
On April 1st, 2006 Madison GUC co-hosted a fundraiser for Gulf Coast recovery and raised $1400. These funds along with notes of encouragement were sent to each of the families. And for 2 years after Katrina, we continued to send funds from Charity Shiatsu fundraisers in Madison and elsewhere. This support really brought them a sense of hope. As Ashley Stovall put it “to be helped by strangers in the middle of such a disaster, and then to be remembered with cards and funds for two years afterwards touched their hearts more than we can say. Thank you Thank you!!”