Watch the interview with Faith Hill in the new episode of CMT Insider premiering Saturday (Aug. 28) at 1:30 p.m. ET/PT.
Faith Hill has taken a little piece of her heart and given it to New Orleans. The singer visited the Crescent City earlier this week to perform at the Mahalia Jackson Theater on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
“There has been a tremendous amount of natural activity disasters floating around the world in the five years since Hurricane Katrina,” Hill told CMT Insider prior to her concert. “There is sometimes a sense that people have forgotten, but the reality is, this town is rebuilding in such a way to open for business, as is the coast of Mississippi and Louisiana.
“It’s no secret that this area just experienced another almost unimaginable disaster with the oil spill. In some ways, that has devastated businesses even greater than Katrina. But you’ll find that the more you travel in this space, the people of this area — of the Gulf Coast, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Orleans — love this place and they are not gonna leave, you know?”
She continued, “They’re planted here, and they don’t want to leave, so they have pulled together as a community to do whatever it takes to build this city again. There are businesses that have left, that have no way of rebuilding. But there are those that have rebuilt, that have stayed, and I think it’s going to be an even better city.”
During the interview, Hill vividly recalled making a trip to the Mississippi coast with a truckload of supplies about a week after the hurricane hit in 2005.
“There was a stretch of highway on both sides where the pine trees, [which] are thick and big and tall in Mississippi, were almost parallel to the ground. It’s like they were frozen in time from the wind. Both sides were like that, and it just left this mark in my mind,” she said. “It was a moment in time that will never, ever be forgotten. For so many people, it changed their life.”
For the anniversary concert, Hill partnered with Tide Loads of Hope, which trucks in 32 washers and dryers to provide free laundry services in the wake of natural disasters. Hill says the program makes those victims feel more comfortable and provides a basic necessity of clean clothes.
“It’s one of those things that you kind of forget about in the midst of chaos, when you’ve lost your home and you’re trying to figure out what to do with your life in general,” said Hill, who grew up in Star, Miss., about a three-hour drive from New Orleans.
Of course, Hill now lives near Nashville, which experienced a devastating flood in early May. She and husband Tim McGraw responded by enlisting their famous friends for an all-star concert for local flood relief. She praised the positive way the city responded to the disaster.
“We had this enormous torrential rain that just flooded so many areas of Nashville that were completely unexpected,” she said. “Nationally, it wasn’t that recognized because I think people thought it was OK. And the reason that people thought it was OK, and not as much of a disaster as it was, was [because of] the people helping one another. The first responders were neighbors. It’s just incredible what the human can first of all withstand and then what we can do together.”