Women of the Storm

Changing the Gulf for the Better, Post-Katrina and BP

Women of the Storm

The Junior League of New Orleans

Issue Area(s): Civic Leadership, Environment, Disaster Recovery


Out of frustration at the lack of attention and resources from Congress in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Anne McDonald Milling, Past President and Sustainer of the Year of The Junior League of New Orleans, joined with other Louisiana women whose families, businesses and lives were affected by Katrina to create a dynamic volunteer advocacy group called Women of the Storm. Five years later, in the wake of the BP oil spill, the group expanded its mandate to ensure that monetary penalties charged the offending corporations would be applied to the states that sustained damage. 

Community partners

  • National women’s organizations, including AJLI; The Links, Incorporated; the National Council of Jewish Women; and the National Women’s Leadership Council, as well as the United Way of America
  • Environmental groups, including America's Wetland Foundation; Coast Guardians; Ducks Unlimited; the Environmental Defense Fund; and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana
  • Other local businesses and community organizations

How it works

While it is not a lobbying organization, Women of the Storm has conducted educational tours, offering data and personal stories to Congress, local and national media, major foundations and large and influential businesses. Long considered one of the most effective volunteer organizations to come out of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Women of the Storm is led by a diverse group of 13 dedicated women who continue to meet almost every Monday morning.

What’s the impact?

The Women of the Storm movement continues today with a focus on drawing the attention of Congress, media and opinion leaders to the needs of New Orleans, South Louisiana and the entire Gulf Coast. Specific achievements have included building local, regional and national coalitions to influence environmental rebuilding and protection and moving Congress to pass various laws that:

  • Supported homeowner recovery after Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed or severely damaged 80 percent of New Orleans’ housing stock
  • Offered, for the first time, a fair share of offshore oil revenues to Louisiana
  • Ensured the Gulf Coast states receive 80 percent of fines from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to support economic and environmental recovery. The fines are estimated to be between $5 billion and $20 billion