Isaac's path brings back memories for Hurricane Katrina evacuees 7 years later

By: Katie Beasley Email
By: Katie Beasley Email
Hurricane Katrina evacuation

In 2005, Debbie lived about 30 miles outside of New Orleans. She evacuated just two days before Hurricane Katrina hit. (WRDW-TV / Aug. 27, 2012)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Aug. 27, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Many along the Gulf Coast are fleeing inland as evacuation notices have been issued for Isaac. Four governors have already issued states of emergency.

Debbie Richardson can't stay off the Internet. She's tracking Tropical Storm Isaac from her job at Gordon Chevrolet.

"My anxiety is very high. I have friends who are saying, 'Oh it's fine; it's just a tropical storm,' and I have other friends that are packing up and leaving right now," Richardson said.

In 2005, Richardson lived about 30 miles outside of New Orleans. She evacuated just two days before Hurricane Katrina hit.

"I turned on the TV and it was just an indescribable feeling to see the storm going over where I lived," she said.

She eventually came back to Augusta, where she was born and where her family still lived.

"We were here 18 to 19 days and it was probably 10 days before I knew if my house was still there," she said.

Richardson was one of the lucky ones, but she says she will still never forget what she saw when she finally went back home.

"Saw the X's on the doors with the body counts. I've never been in a war zone, but I would imagine it's very similar," she said.

And something her 5-year-old daughter said, will stay with her forever.

"I had tried to shield them from the news a lot, but the first night we were back, I went to give her a bath and she didn't want to get in and I said, 'Why?' And she's like, 'Because I don't want body parts to come out,'" Richardson said.

More than 1,800 people died, making it one of the deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history.

"Sometimes it feels like it was a lifetime ago, but like today it feels like it was yesterday," Richardson said.

And those feelings are rushing back for Richardson as she watches Isaac move closer.

"Katrina did the same exact thing. The first forecast it was going to turn back towards Florida. It was a small storm and then I think once it hit the Gulf, it built and got bigger and bigger and that's what Isaac is doing," she explained.

Of course, Isaac is much weaker than Katrina. Isaac is expected to be a category one, possibly two when it hits land on Tuesday.
Katrina was a category five and then a three when it hit.

Richardson's 20-year-old son lives in New Orleans now. She says he's worried but so far not evacuating. She says before Katrina, a storm like Isaac probably would not have scared her, but now, after Katrina, if she was still living there, she says she'd be leaving.

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