OUR VIEW: 10 years later, region still remembers

ZZ finds out Tough Enough fate
August 26, 2015
Larry Harris
August 29, 2015

This week will mark a full decade since Hurricane Katrina showed up on our doorsteps, and decided that life would change forever.

The storm’s sheer size was astonishing. Satellite pictures captured show that it took up nearly the entire Gulf of Mexico at its peak.

Of course, we all know that it wasn’t all bark, and that Katrina had a lot of bite, as well.

The storm killed 1,836 people across seven states. Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast, obviously saw the vast majority of the deaths, but Katrina was so massive that she showed her teeth thousands of miles inland, as well – something that not all hurricanes have the power to do. A total of two Ohio natives were killed in the storm, as well as one in Kentucky.

The storm’s surge devastated coastal Mississippi, and the water’s strength broke the walls of New Orleans’ levees.

It was the perfect storm that experts had long told us could happen in Louisiana, but after enduring Juan, Andrew, Betsy and several others, we never imagined that those experts might be right.

As soon as Katrina hit the coast, she became one of those rare moments in history that stay in your mind forever. People who were impacted by the storm remember all of the details.

If an evacuee, we remember the traffic on the way out of town, and all of the frustrations that came with it.

We remember sitting some hotel or at a family member’s house and watching her massive eye churn in the Gulf and then swallow Louisiana and Mississippi with her cloud-tops, rainstorms, storm surge and powerful winds.

We remember seeing the city we all love and enjoy at its most vulnerable moment. We remember seeing those innocent people standing on their rooftops desperate for help. We remember seeing the rooftop of the Superdome – a symbol that is so memorable to folks in our state – torn to bits by her wrath.

And perhaps the most chilling thing of it all: We remember coming home to the uncertain future – one in which we didn’t know if our home was still standing.

The Houma-Thibodaux area wasn’t hit as bad by Katrina as others around the state. In many respects, Hurricane Rita was actually more of a local nuisance because of the angle that the storm scraped the coast.

Katrina passed to our east, delivering its most powerful blow to the folks on the right quadrant of the storm. Rita hit to our west, which brought a lot of the powerful punch to our collective guts.

But that doesn’t change that we remember, and that our hearts will be with our brothers and sisters in New Orleans this week as the anniversary comes and goes.

Katrina cost $108 billion in damages, and some parts of the city still aren’t all the way back to where they were before all of the damages ensued.

But the resiliency of the people around the state shined bright, and we’ve powered back and showed everyone the grit from which we’re made.

The 2015 Hurricane Season is at its peak, and throughout the next few weeks, it’s very likely that several storms will be born, and will sit in salty waters before deciding where to make landfall.

The challenge now is to take all of the lessons that we learned in Katrina and carry them into the future.

Now’s the time that we all revisit our hurricane plans and make sure that we’re caught up on all of those hurricane supplies that are hard to get during times of crisis.

This past week, we tracked Hurricane Danny, and luckily he fizzled. But meteorologists say that there are other waves lined up behind Danny – each of which could be named as soon as this week.

The next four weeks are statistically the busiest weeks of hurricane season, so now is the time to pay attention and be on alert.

We can’t believe that it’s already been 10 years since Katrina came and went.

Here’s to God’s blessings that we don’t see another storm like that one for a very, very long time.