A Helpless Feeling on 9/11 Sparked Motivation After Hurricane Katrina

A Helpless Feeling on 9/11 Sparked Motivation After Hurricane Katrina

Sherry-Lea Bloodworth Botop, center, walks through one of the Gulf Coast evacuee buses she helped coordinate.

Sherry-Lea Bloodworth Botop, left, celebrates the completion of a new Gulf Coast home with its future residents.

Sherry-Lea Bloodworth Botop helps with the construction of a new home.

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A helpless feeling on 9/11 sparked motivation after #HurricaneKatrina. http://bit.ly/1JBMPbY #DailyPointofLight | via @PointsofLight
Friday, August 28, 2015 - 3:45pm

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we are honoring volunteers who served along the Gulf Coast after the storm. Meet Sherry-Lea Bloodworth Botop, today's Daily Point of Light Award winner, and nominate an outstanding volunteer or organization you know as a Point of Light.

Sherry-Lea Bloodworth Botop’s drive to help others after Hurricane Katrina stemmed from her experience on 9/11. She was living in New York, a young, newly divorced, single mom with two small children. 

“I remember walking downtown with the kids in their stroller to see what I could do” after the towers fell, she says. “There was nothing. I felt so helpless.”

Botop – a New Orleans native – moved south to rebuild her life, settling in Fairhope, Alabama, where she had family. She was there when Hurricane Katrina hit on Aug. 29, 2005. As water rose outside the church where she had taken shelter – the highest point between Florida and New Mexico – Botop went into action.  

She persuaded the owner of a bus company, a fellow evacuee, to make every bus available for the rescue effort. Marshaling anyone with medical training, the convoy set out for New Orleans.

They never made it. 

“We got just over the state line into Mississippi and saw that it was decimated,” Botop recalls. “There were people wandering, dazed and severely injured.” 

Traveling back and forth from Biloxi, Mississippi, to shelters in Georgia and Alabama, the five busses continued the rescue mission. Coordinating with teams of volunteers, Botop helped rescue some 900 people, only stopping when the roads became impassable.

Read the rest of the story on the Points of Light blog.