After the Storm, Part 1

By: Kristen Ross
By: Kristen Ross

Hurricane Katrina swept across the city of New Orleans with a vengeance, taking lives, destroying businesses and homes, and forever changing the lives of hundreds of thousands.

And though it's been more than a year since the storm passed, Katrina rages on in the memories of two families whose lives were forever changed that day. One fled the city, the other was forced to stay.

"We planned to evacuate, but we got delayed because my car got stolen," James Edwards, a Katrina survivor, said. "We got stuck there. We went through the hurricane. We made it in our house for a few days with no food, no water, no electricity."

Edwards and his family were trapped inside the home for nearly four days. With no food left in the house, it quickly became apparent that in order to survive, they had to find supplies.

"I was afraid for what I was going to do with my family," Edwards said. "How was I going to take care of my family?"

His wife was three months pregnant at the time, and he said his family was forced to find spare food by any means possible.

"We had to do a little looting," Edwards said. "We broke into a grocery store, a corner store just to get by. You would see other folks walk around the streets with unnecessary stuff, but then you also had other families who needed food and water."

But after scavenging food for his family, James knew that without electricity and clean water, they had to get out of the city. So like may other families, the Edwards family headed to an evacuation site at the Causeway Bridge.

"We were outside in the dirt in the feces and whatever was on the ground," said Natasha Edwards, James' wife. "Chaos was coming because it wasn't really organized. It wasn't like you just form a line on the bus. It was like whoever gets on gets on."

Same town, different family.

Antonio Gibson packed up his loved ones and left the city a few days before Katrina made landfall.

"Being in that area, you kind of become accustomed to having to leave, but it's kind of like a mini-vacation," said Gibson. "You always leave a day or so ahead of time, but then you go back home, but this was different."

Gibson and his family watched from a Memphis hotel room as the storm destroyed much of the city they called home.

"With New Orleans sitting right below sea level, and with us receiving the amount of rain we received, that's really all New Orleans needed for the hurricane to destroy it," said Gibson.

As they continued to watch the flood waters submerge the Crescent City, it soon became apparent, they wouldn't be going home any time soon.

"We lost most of what was inside the home," said Gibson. "But there's a lot more we could have lost. We could have stayed there and lost our lives."

Both the Edwards and Gibson families were forced to leave their homes and start a life somewhere new.

Watch Wednesday night at 6 p.m. on News 3 to hear how the two families have made their homes in the Brazos Valley.


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