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Hurricane Katrina Survivor Now Leading The Battle Against Flooding In New Orleans

Meagan Williams was only a teen when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, impacting her life forever.

Since the natural disaster that swept through the streets of New Orleans, Williams has focused on helping manage water in the city by educating herself about the power of water.

During an interview with Yale Climate Connections, Williams recalled the damage done to her aunt’s house, an impact that affected the home for months after.

“Every single window had blown out of the house,” Williams shared. “And the water line is maybe an inch from the top of the ceiling. Every single thing is caked in mud and mold…And that’s kind of when the wheels started turning… I pretty distinctly remember telling my mom that day some version of, ‘I want to help,’ — no idea what that meant.”

Williams pursued her desire to help and became a civil engineer. Today, she is the urban water program manager for New Orleans’ Office of Resilience and Sustainability. The role, said Williams, is a perfect fit as she works to design and implement strategies to manage excess water in New Orleans. This includes green infrastructure, which, according to The City of New Orleans’ Resilience and Sustainability website, uses plant species to “reduce flood risks and sinking and improve air, earth [and] water quality.”

Her job is vital in helping the city survive severe rain storms, which have increased this year.

“It’s like somebody just poured a bucket from the sky on top of us all at one time,” the Hurricane Katrina survivor explained, adding that the everyday summer storms in New Orleans are becoming more frequent.

In meeting the challenges of climate change, Williams is dedicated to the prevention of dangerous flooding throughout New Orleans.

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