Katrina

Hurricane Katrina peaked with winds up to 175 mph and caused nearly 2,000 deaths. 

Sometimes the impact is more powerful than the actual storm. 

Aug. 29 marks the 14-year anniversary of the levees and flood walls failing to hold back Hurricane Katrina. Katrina’s rising flood waters and destructive winds not only disrupted the physical landscape, but also changed the lives of those who Katrina’s gusts of winds reached—including those at LSU. Everyone has their own unique story to tell when it comes to Katrina and her terror. 

Here, in their own words, are the stories of students, professors and alumni who were affected by Katrina and her vast reach. 

2009 entrepreneurial management graduate Ana DeAlvere

I had rejected LSU to go to UNO instead because I had a dream of studying business in the city of New Orleans. That quickly changed after realizing that the levees broke. I drove to LSU immediately when it was announced that we could transfer there. I slowly grew to love LSU as I let go of what I had dreamed up as my college experience. 

I wouldn’t trade a single experience- the classes, the times around campus, at Tiger Stadium, or the way I grew into myself. Katrina swooped in and taught me to leave space for life to unfold as it will, that we can be resilient, courageous and it is the surprise that connects us all.

Sociology sophomore Caitlyn O’Conner

My dad worked as an executive at Ochsner and he ended up staying in New Orleans to help the hospital. We evacuated to Alabama, then New York. Luckily no one in my family was hurt, but we did lose my tree house. 

I know it [Katrina] made me feel more connected to Louisiana. I had never experienced something that affected the entire state and it made me think of it as a home when I moved away. 

Manship School of Mass Communication Adjunct Instructor Freda Yarbrough Dunne

My late husband, Mike Dunne, was the environmental reporter for The Advocate at the time and covered the aftermath from New Orleans. His oddest memory was of riding in a "duck" boat with the Coast Guard over an overpass over Canal Street and watching someone on a jet ski ride in front of his mother's now submerged apartment.

I was on duty overnight for online at theadvocate.com when Katrina went through New Orleans and was in disbelief when I started hearing about possible flooding. It was still dark, so no one really knew. Daylight was a stunner.

Kinesiology sophomore Kaylie Pillar

We lost power for a month, so we were in and out of hotels and friends' houses who had power. It definitely made us stronger because not only did it allow us to really rely on each other, it also made us more prepared if it were to ever happen again. 

2019 economics graduate Nana Prempeh

It affected me indirectly. My parents’ friends who lived in New Orleans had to evacuate and they ended up staying with us for a few months. I had just moved to the United States the year Katrina hit so it also gave me an impression of the United States. 

Almost made me feel like these kinds of deadly disasters happened all the time since it happened within the first months of me moving.

Biological engineering sophomore Mallory Matthews

I started the first day of kindergarten five or so days before, my little brother was born four days before it and my dad was in the ICU until three days before Katrina. It made it really hard to adjust with a baby and a sick dad and because of Katrina I couldn’t go back to school for three months. It wasn’t easy, but I would have never met my boyfriend and friends if I hadn’t gone through that. 

Finance freshman Waylon Mabry

During Katrina, me and my family lived in Chalmette. We only tried to evacuate when it was kind of late and got trapped in a hotel in Metairie. My dad is really allergic to ants and we had lost his EpiPen. He had an allergic reaction and got really sick while we were trapped in that hotel. We had to wait for my grandmother to come and evacuate us. 

Biology sophomore Camille Landry

I was only five at the time, but I remember being evacuated in Pensacola with probably 30 members of my dad’s family. My dad and his brothers went back after the storm had passed to assess the damage to the houses, and he called saying that five trees had fallen on our house and that we wouldn’t be able to go back there for a while. It turns out we were the lucky ones; my dad’s 10 siblings lived in Chalmette and their homes, along with everything they owned, were 13 feet underwater.

Biological engineering sophomore Trey Zulli

Katrina did impact my life. I probably would’ve stayed in Meraux where I originally lived. If it wasn’t for Katrina, I would have never experienced some of the things I did.

Katrina or no Katrina, I would have still come to LSU. I have pretty much wanted to be here since I was a young lad. Nothing can keep a tiger away from their home, not even Katrina. 

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