Cabrini students from New Orleans were faced with concerns for their families and homes once again as Hurricane Gustav brought back the memories of Hurricane Katrina. The Cabrini students stress the difference between the two storms attacking their hometown. They also said the government has improved in managing evacuations.
In the final days of August, the mayor of New Orleans issued a mandatory evacuation order for the people of the city.
“I talked to my mom two days ago when they came home. She said there are cracks in the floor and in the ceiling and now the ceilings are leaking,” Kayli Traina, junior criminology and psychology major, said. “They think there is something wrong with the foundation because there was also a tornado three miles from my house.”
The concern of the levees breaking after the damage that Katrina left was a major worry for Traina and her family. She knew of two levees that actually did become destroyed. However, they were not near her home.
“There is a canal by my house that the media kept talking about, so I was worried my house was going to flood,” Kelsie LaBauve, a senior religious studies major, said. “My cousin was telling me ‘there will be no West Bank,’ which is where I live, so I was paranoid the whole time.”
Staying on top of the news was all LaBauve could do. Along with her family and friends, she thought Gustav would be major because of how damaged the levees still were from Katrina. No one in the area thought the levees could hold another storm back.
“All they were talking about was how the levees were supposed to break this time; I just know it’s going to happen sooner or later,” LaBauve said.
The loss of electricity is still an issue for some people in the area, according to Traina. Residents are without electricity during even the most minor of storms. Therefore, hurricanes nearly triple the time that homes lack power.
“It’s very difficult because I was here and I couldn’t do anything,” Anita Catalanotto, financial aid administrative assistant, said. “Katrina made us take evacuating seriously since we lost everything when the levee near our home broke. It’s frightening and it will be for the rest of my life. You never know if one of these hurricanes could be another Katrina.”
“It’s always been a hassle evacuating for hurricanes. We have evacuated our whole lives so it’s kind of a routine for us,” LaBauve said. “Everyone was annoyed that we had to evacuate, but there was more fear this time compared to previous times.”
Even though forecasters were unable to predict the exact intensity of Gustav, the people of New Orleans cooperated with the evacuation. Those who survived Katrina were taking the process more seriously.
“It wasn’t really that weird when my family heard about the evacuation, because we’ve had to do it before with Katrina,” Traina said.
Traina’s family in New Orleans was able to leave safely once they found out that there was a mandatory evacuation.
“When my family first heard about Hurricane Gustav, it was in the back of everyone’s mind that it could be like Katrina. They were worried that they might not be able to get back and we might not have a house,” LaBauve said.
According to LaBauve, people in the New Orleans area have spent their whole lives evacuating for hurricanes. Since Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana, evacuations are no longer considered a yearly ritual. Nowadays, people are leaving their homes and belongings with the fear that they might come back to nothing.
“They thought Gustav would be worse than what it actually was,” Traina said. “I actually know of some people who stayed there and they told me that aside from the winds, it wasn’t that bad.”
For LaBauve, learning that there was to be another tragic hurricane was a nightmare coming back to haunt her. She was in her freshman year at Cabrini when Katrina occurred. Now in her senior year, she felt it was happening all over again with Gustav. It was not until the storm ended that she discovered it was nowhere near the magnitude of Katrina.
“The state was definitely more prepared this time. They had 700 buses to take people out,” Traina said.
According to the Washington Post, Gustav was a test for the state of Louisiana to see whether Katrina taught a lesson on being prepared for the worst. The Louisiana governor as well as the mayor of New Orleans were praised for their handling of the evacuation.
“People really learned from Katrina,” LaBauve said. “My mom cleaned out the fridge before they left because when Katrina hit, everything ended up rotting from sitting there for months in the heat. They took all of their valuables and their animals. It was completely different this time. Lessons have been learned.”