My Hurricane Katrina story is a little different because I lived in Texas at the time of the storm and didn’t evacuate. Instead, I had the honor of being able to help people who were evacuating from New Orleans.

For me, the hardest part of Katrina was seeing the negative changes it had on the town I grew up in, Katy. Katy had always been a very safe place. I was allowed to run around outside as a kid, ride my bike pretty freely, etc. Although I lived in the lower-middle class area outside of the city limits itself, it was still a safe area. I grew up shopping at the same Wal-Mart my entire life. I remember when it moved across the street from it’s original location to become a Super Wal-Mart. I also, sadly, can now say I remember when it was no longer safe to shop there. Within just a couple of weeks of Katrina, I can remember there was a shooting at that store and my friends and I began to drive a bit further to go to a Wal-Mart that was safer. I know most people who evacuated were grateful, graceful guests in our city. Sadly, I had to experience one of the negative side effects of evacuation.

But, my favorite Katrina story is mine. My family had just recently moved from Katy, Texas to San Antonio, Texas. As I was 18, not in school and still looking for a job, I had made a trip back to Katy on the Friday before everyone evacuated to visit my grandparents. On Sunday, my grandparents got a phone call from some family friends saying they were driving over and needed a place to stay. That night, after a long day of driving, they arrived and I began hanging out with them since they were about my age. And, I took a real liking to one of them who I began dating.

Our relationship gave me a unique chance to watch New Orleans rebuild. After Katrina he worked in Houston until January at which point he returned home. When he returned home, I started visiting him in New Orleans about every 3 to 4 months. I can remember one time coming to visit and he commented to me that not much had changed, everything was still destroyed. We were driving down Saint Charles when he said this and I remember telling him, you’re living it, it’s harder to see the improvement. But, did you realize, last time I was here, the street lights were all still out? He looked around and said, he hadn’t even noticed the street lights were back! Each time I visited I was amazed at the progress the city was making and was able to point it out to those who weren’t able to notice it. I was really an honor to watch the city rebuild the way I did.

Ultimately, 2 years after Hurricane Katrina, I packed up and moved to New Orleans to be near him and it’s been quite an experience. It’s been amazing to see the resilience of the city and watch it come back. Is it the same? No, it has been changed tremendously, but I think that it’s such an amazing place with such amazing people and I am glad to be able to say I live here.

And, 2 years ago, I married the man I started dating after he evacuated for Hurricane Katrina. I always enjoy when I get to share our story. It’s the silver lining and it reminds me and so many others the good that can come from even the most difficult of circumstances.

Citation

“[Untitled],” Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, accessed September 27, 2020, http://hurricanearchive.org/items/show/45903.