Our Katrina Story

November 1, 2005

Like much of the rest of the country, the editors of REALTOR® Magazine and REALTOR® Magazine Online woke up on Tuesday, Aug. 30, expecting a day of business as usual. A different reality set in quickly as word of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation spread.

While the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ Leadership Team was meeting to consider emergency aid to the affected states, the editors formed a “Katrina team” with our REALTOR.org counterparts to meet daily and coordinate our coverage of the growing crisis. We felt the story of Hurricane Katrina had particular significance for our readers. Those in the affected Gulf Coast cities saw portions of their inventory destroyed, putting their work and their livelihoods on indefinite hold. We wanted to tell their story and encourage other NAR members to help by making donations to the REALTORS® Relief Foundation.

But we also wanted to tell the other side of the story—the role REALTORS® were reportedly playing to line up housing for many of those left homeless by Katrina. But how, in all the chaos, could we reach practitioners in affected and nearby areas?

Following up on a listserv lead, REALTOR® Magazine Online associate editor Kelly Quigley called Rose Holland, of Lake Charles, La. I had the luck to answer Holland’s return call late on Friday afternoon, Sept. 2.

You’d think, after all these years of working as an editor, I’d be immune to that warm, fuzzy feeling. But I was incredibly touched by Holland’s story of how she and her associates at Coldwell Banker Legacy were working to place Katrina victims in vacant homes. When we spoke, they’d already placed about 18 families. Meanwhile, Holland was coordinating donations of food, clothing, and other necessities. Although she was running out of housing options, Holland wasn’t giving up. “We’re going to keep calling,” she told me.

Holland’s story brought home one of the joys of my job—seeing time and again that remarkable can-do spirit that’s so prevalent among REALTORS®. There were many important news reports over the Labor Day weekend about what went wrong with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. I felt happy to be able to report about something that went right.

Stacey Moncrieff

Stacey is executive editor of publications for the National Association of REALTORS® and editor in chief of REALTOR® Magazine.

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