Local Katrina Survivors Reflect On Anniversary, Isaac
HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-The timing of Wednesday’s anniversary for Hurricane Katrina stirred up a lot of memories for survivors who watched former Hurricane Isaac take a similar path seven years later.
Isaac’s punishing rain and wind were being felt throughout much of the Gulf Coast, exactly seven years to the day when Hurricane Katrina delivered a devastating blow to many of the same areas.
Huntsville resident Fred Whitlow is one of thousands of Hurricane Katrina survivors now spread across the country. Whitlow lived in New Orleans during Katrina, but decided to leave town just hours before the big storm hit. Whitlow told WHNT News 19 that that decision likely saved his life, as his house and everything else was destroyed.
“Just getting out of there was mayhem, it was nuts,” said Whitlow, who recently graduated from Oakwood University and now works for Huntsville Housing Authority. “If it had not been for a friend saying ‘Yo, Fred, you need to get out of here, we’ll figure it out later, just get out of here,’ I probably would not even be here talking with you today.”
Whitlow said every August 29th since has been a day to reflect, but tells us this year was especially different with Isaac.
“For me, it gave me quivers for a minute,” said Whitlow. “I was like, wow, so I just took time to pray for my people…We’re just grateful to God that it was not a Category Five.”
After escaping to Birmingham, Whitlow eventually made his way north to Huntsville, where he has lived ever since. In addition to obtaining his degree, Whitlow also recently started a Christian rap label that ministers to youths and young adults in Huntsville.
More than 1,800 people were killed in Hurricane Katrina, which remains the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.