Conrad Streeter arrived in New Orleans about 72 hours after Hurricane Katrina hit land 10 years ago.
“There were no lights. No electricity. It was pitch black,” said Streeter, who is now principal of Colleyville Heritage High School. He was a sergeant in the Texas Army National Guard, riding in a 110-vehicle military convoy as it rolled into the floodwaters.
The air was thick with terrible smells as Streeter and the 1/112th Armor Unit set up near the Children’s Hospital near Tulane University. Their orders were to help provide security — to keep order in the devastated city.
As a nation watched New Orleans grapple with flooding, safety and survival, Streeter was on the ground, helping. As part of Task Force 71, he spent four weeks searching for bodies, opening roads and helping people trapped in their houses.
“We ran operations 24 hours a day, and during that time we went out and patrolled streets,” said Streeter. “We went house to house looking for anyone who was left behind.”
Today, Streeter turns his experience into a teaching moment, reminding students of the importance of service to others.
“All sorts of organizations came,” Morris said. “More people would have arrived to help if they had a way to get there. … There is a real sense that what happened in New Orleans was happening in the United States and we all need to pitch in and help.”
Streeter said he saw the power of community in New Orleans.
He said he met people from New York, Pennsylvania, fire crews, police officers and others who would help the National Guard members and even cook for them.
“We met a lot of local people who were very appreciative of the effort we were giving,” he said.
These are lessons Streeter said he likes to share with students.
“Giving back — serving others — is a good thing,” he said. “I like our students to have that perspective and my teachers, too.”
He had joined the National Guard three years earlier, heeding a personal call to serve after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“I was one of the older soldiers in basic training,” he said.
Streeter was called to serve in humanitarian efforts such as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. He also served in Romania and later in Operation Jump Start, assisting in border enforcement along the Texas-Mexico border.