Farrakhan’s Generosity: The Untold Katrina Story

New Orleans – Saturday, August 27, 2005, began like any other day in the Crescent City.  It was a hot day with no indication of what was to come two days later.  Word from the National Hurricane Center was that the storm that originated over the Bahamas had now emerged into the Gulf of Mexico and had strengthened to a category 5 hurricane named Katrina and it was headed  to the Mississippi/Louisiana coast.

Sunday, August 28, a mandatory evacuation was announced. Cars wrapped around gas stations, cell phones lost communications, water disappeared from store shelves and traffic jammed as people attempted to flee a hurricane that was scheduled to make landfall in approximately 20 hours. Unfortunately, on Monday, August 29, the first images of New Orleans came across the TV
screen. An unbelievable vision of a city so submerged in water, homes were no longer visible. Water so deep, boats became the No. 1 mode of transportation. All of the news stations were reporting the same thing; that the city was inhabitable and it would be months before the citizens of New Orleans could return home. “I was hurt when I saw the city of my birth destroyed and our people in need of help,” Student Minister Willie Muhammad expressed. “I was depressed watching the news every morning and feeling paralyzed by the images of our people suffering.  For a few days, I didn’t shave or shower.”

It was a month later that Bro. Willie got word that the mosque was completely devastated. It sustained $200,000 worth of damages.  On September 11, 2005, Bro. Willie met with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan in Houston, Texas after a town hall meeting.  In January 2006, Min. Farrakhan traveled to New Orleans to meet with the Believers.  During his visit, he took a personal tour through the Lower 9th Ward where most of the destruction occurred.  Bro. Willie, who accompanied him on the tour witnessed Min. Farrakhan cry when he saw the aftermath of the storm. This event was something Min. Farrakhan said people had to see with their own eyes and that he did not want the rest of Black America and the world to forget about the worst natural disaster in American history. So, he instructed the Final Call Newspaper
Staff to return to the city to film a documentary about what took place in New Orleans, titled, “Unmasking Katrina”. Outraged by the U.S government’s slow response to the citizens of New Orleans, Min. Farrakhan also led a twenty-three member delegation to Havana, Cuba to study disaster relief preparedness in March 2006. The delegation learned how the Cuban government implements life-saving, rapid-response strategies in the face of impending disasters.  Lastly, he addressed the believers of Mosque No. 46 and the Southwest Region and gave them words of
encouragement and requested that the laborers do an assessment of the believer’s needs, in which an on-line application was created.
“I found out 3 weeks after the storm hit that my home and business was completely destroyed,” Bro. Roosevelt Muhammad said, a resident of the 9 th Ward.  “I had a company called Positive Printing where I printed T-shirts, business cards, and signs. After I filled out my form, Min. Farrakhan sent me $10,000 two days later. I was able to buy the equipment I needed and re-launch my business without having to get a 9-5 job. Words cannot express the
love and overwhelming appreciation I have for Min. Farrakhan,” he added.
“I left town with less than a $100 in my bank account,” Rhodesia Muhammad recalled.  “I was out of work when Katrina hit and was deeply concerned about how I was going to live in another city without any means of taking care of my needs financially.  I was denied rental assistance from FEMA, even though my home was located in an area with no electricity, no open gas stations, drug stores, grocery stores, or 911 assistance. Min. Farrakhan sent me
$2,000.  I knew this was done purely out of the love he has for the believers. I’m so grateful for
his heart.” “For many people outside of New Orleans, it’s difficult to understand the thinking of us who live with Hurricane Season as a way of life," Bro. Mujahid Muhammad began”; The simplest thing to do is leave in light of a threat.  However threats come so frequent that our decisions are weighed against our financial means, our health, mobility of elders, etc. There have been numerous times that I have stayed but this time my family and I left anticipating to return in a
couple of days. We witnessed the majority of the devastation on the news in Monroe, LA at the home of Aamir and LaChelle Muhammad,” he continued. “Everything I built for seven years in
real estate was destroyed in several hours. With limited finances, clothes, food and no shelter,
we scrambled to determine our next move.  Min. Farrakhan held a conference call and
instructed the believers to open their homes to the victims of Katrina, so, a believing family
from Houston, Bro. Patrick and Sis. Chandra, allowed us to live with them for several months,”
Bro. Mujahid said.  “The Minister also held a believers meeting and told us that our work in
New Orleans was not over. He encouraged us to come home to rebuild and continue to help
our people.  Min. Farrakhan assessed my family’s needs and a few days later, Min. Willie
personally delivered a check to me with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s signature for thousands of dollars; every cent that I articulated we needed.  I can never forget the expression
on my dad’s face when he questioned what the Nation had done for me.  I pulled out that check
from Min. Farrakhan and my dad’s jaw dropped in disbelief.  All praise is due to Allah for the
spirit of the Minister.

“My father asked me to sleep on the top bunk that night,” Alimah Muhammad recollected.
“When I woke up and jumped down, the water was a little bit below my chest.  My father knew
we had to leave, so we began to walk down our street to see if we could find somewhere safe.
But as we walked, the water got deeper.  I was 15 years old at the time and my father didn’t
want to risk walking any further. Then a man in a boat came and dropped us off on higher
ground.  From there, we got a ride to the mosque. For three days, we slept upstairs in the
sanctuary underneath chairs because the roof was severely damaged.  We would go to a nearby
store to get food, until a police officer pointed a gun in my face and demanded that we leave.
We knew then we had to exit the city.  We walked 16 miles in the heat to a part of the city that
wasn’t affected by the storm and found our way to Baton Rouge.  If my father had not put me
on one meal a day as a young girl, not eating would’ve been difficult. Seven years of Karate
prepared me to walk the many miles we had to walk to safety.  We thank Min. Farrakhan for his
wisdom.  It helped us survive,” Sis. Alimah said.

“If it were not for the Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the example of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan I wouldn’t be alive today,” Student Captain Jason Muhammad said.  “I returned home about ten days after Katrina hit.  I was allowed back in the city because I worked for an oil refinery at the time.  When I pulled up to my home and saw a large section of the front wall destroyed and most of my belongings, including my FOI uniform, covered in mold and mud on the front lawn, I immediately thought about what Min. Farrakhan has taught about the fall of America.  The Teachings helped me rationally cope with such a great loss because I was reminded of what was most important…my family.  We are taught to do for self, so the money I received from my insurance allowed me to grow my real estate business, leave the oil refinery and launch my management company to help other brothers manage their construction companies.  Every material thing I lost, Allah blessed me to get back two-fold.”

“I remember the anxiety of driving into the city for the first time,” Sis. Rhodesia said, “and
crying at the apocalyptic images.  It had been two months since the storm and I didn’t know the
condition of my home. I will never forget the moment I pulled onto my street and got out of my
car.  It was eerily quiet.  No birds chirping, no crickets, no dogs barking, or children playin.  It
was like the city was dead. My home weathered the storm, but the thought of leaving it again
with no knowledge of when they would allow us to return for good was agonizing. All I wanted
was to go home.”

Many sisters from New Orleans lost their Muslim garments.  However, Fashahn,
manufacturer of Muslim apparel, offered official garments to the sisters at no cost at their
Saviour’s Day convention, February 2006.

“I had been shopping at the thrift store trying to find something modest to wear,” Student
Captain Lenora Muhammad admitted. “I was living in Chattanooga, TN at the time and I will
never forget the day I returned to the mosque after Saviour’s Day in my white satin 3-Pleat
garment.  Everyone cheered in excitement because the believers in Chattanooga had never
seen me in a garment. I remember feeling so blessed that Fashahn did that for us.

“That same weekend, Rashad Muhammad, a member of Min. Farrakhan’s personal security
team, made it possible for the New Orleans believers to reunite for a special dinner at the
Salaam restaurant. This was the first time many of them had seen each other since the storm.
By January 2009, Mosque No. 46 was completely renovated and had officially re-opened.  A
rededication ceremony was held in which Min. Farrakhan spoke to the Believers via conference

“I am proud of the progress we’ve made since Hurricane Katrina,” Bro. Willie stated. “From
my understanding of the history of the Nation of Islam, we are the only other mosque outside
of Mosque No. 7 after the death of Malcolm X, whose building was completely destroyed, to
come back and rebuild. Our work in the community has increased to an even greater degree
since Katrina and the respect of the community has grown as well. People were happy to see
that we did not abandon the city. I am thankful to Allah for every one of the believers who help
make our mosque such a special place. We plan to increase our influence in this city and work
to grow in our ability to better serve our people.”

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