Author Kathleen Koch, ahead of the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina this week, said she was crippled by guilt as she reported on the storm-battered South and lost her faith in the government's ability to help its people in the wake of natural disaster.
The longtime CNN correspondent, who is signing copies of her tome "Rising from Katrina: How My Mississippi Hometown Lost it All and Found What Mattered"at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, said she doubts all future federal response efforts.
"I no longer have much trust or faith that the federal government is capable of responding well or speedily after a major disaster," she confessed to Niteside. "I tell civic groups that after a calamity on the magnitude of Katrina, you are on your own."
The journalist plans to commemorate the Aug. 29 anniversary of the disaster by heading down to Mississippi, a trip the Mississippi-raised Koch has made multiple times each year since the storm battered the Gulf Coast with 125-mph winds in 2005.
"The survivors I was interviewing who had lost everything were my friends, high school classmates and neighbors," she said. " I continually offered them what we had, but most declined and just urged us to get the word out that no help had come and people were suffering."
She wanted nothing more at times than to rip off the microphone, commandeer an SUV and start driving up and down the streets of her hometown giving away our food and water, she said. But she didn't.
"I realized that then we’d be the victims and unable to do our jobs, which at that moment was truly the best way to help the most people. Still, I dealt for years with the suffocating guilt over how you can consider yourself a good person if you didn’t give away what you had," she said.
Koch heads south on Friday for anniversary ceremonies.