When Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans, LA, in 2005, Meagan Williams was 16 years old. Today, she helps to manage water in the city after being inspired to learn about the power of its forces following the life-changing event.

Her Inspiration

“Every single window had blown out of the house,” Williams recalled of the damage she witnessed to her aunt’s home during an interview with Yale Climate Connections. “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.”

What’s more, Williams wanted to do more than just talk about the ways Hurricane Katrina affected her. Instead, she chose to put actions behind her words.

She took her desire to help others to heart and became a civil engineer. Now, as the urban water program manager for New Orleans’ Office of Resilience and Sustainability, Williams helps to create strategies for managing excess water in the city.

Williams’ Work As An Urban Water Program Manager

This includes implementing green infrastructure solutions such as detention ponds and rain gardens to deal with excess water.

Williams notes that intense rain storms are becoming more frequent in her city with the climate continuously warming.

“It’s like somebody just poured a bucket from the sky on top of us all at one time,” she explained. “These are our everyday summer storms, and they’re becoming more and more frequent.”

Her Hope For The Future

The recent changes in the global climate, coupled with her experiences as a Hurricane Katrina survivor, will continue to be the driving force behind Williams’ commitment to helping protect the residents of New  Orleans from dangerous flooding.