Hurricane Katrina may have happened a dozen years ago, but a thousand stories of people being hurt or rescued continue living on. Some people were saved and survived through the help of people who were on duty, and their lives changed forever. One such great moment was when Mike Maroney, a US airman, saved the little ‘Katrina girl’ and the moment she gave him a huge hug. Their story lives on, and we cannot wait to tell you what are they up to now.
The 2005 devastating hurricane took 1800 victims, which makes it the deadliest and costliest of the American hurricanes till now. Katrina brought a low of water and left numerous families without a place to live. Some people also remained trapped in their own homes, waiting for someone to rescue them.
Such was the “Katrina girl” family who had been trapped in their homes for a week before Maroney came to rescue them. The little girl hugged him so deeply, that the picture was taken and stayed in his loving memory from then on. He just couldn’t forget about it.
Source: Instagram | @mahroney
Maroney decided to ask for the help of social media in order to track the little girl. He did this in 2015, and in an interview for Washington post, he said: “I would love to get another hug and see how she’s doing. I’d love her to know that there isn’t a day I haven’t thought of her.” There was also a Twitter hashtag #FindKatrinaKid to help with the search.
Source: The Washington Post Veronica Pierce | U.S. Air Force
And..it was successful! In September 2015, they were reunited on the set of The Real. Katrina Girl’s name is LeShay Brown.
What is more, the show gave the two families checks of $10,000. Brown and Maroney have stayed in touch since, they make phone calls once a week, and he also went to see her family for a lunch. Brown has gone so far as enrolling in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps or (JROTC). This is a pre-training program sponsored by the United States Armed Forces.
Source: PEOPLE Erica Parise | Warner Bros. Television
14-year-old Brown later needed a date to the JROTC ball, and guess who she invited? Maroney, of course.
Brown has plans to join the military one day. Maroney is so proud and happy for her. “I am proud of her no matter what she does and will support her in everything she does,” he said.