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Crossroads' Katrina evacuees relive horror through Isaac

By JR Ortega
Aug. 28, 2012 at 3:28 a.m.

Dillard University students stay at the shelter in the gym of Centenary Colleges as they evacuated from New Orleans because of Hurricane Isaac Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 28, 2012 in Shreveport, La.

Costliest hurricanes

2005: Katrina - $105 billion

1992: Andrew - $45 billion

2008: Ike - $27 billion

2005: Wilma - $20 billion

2004: Ivan - $19 billion

SOURCE: Wunderground.com

The sky became devoid of light as Henry Adams swept the aisles under the bright florescent lights of his Walgreens store in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward.

Adams' wife phoned frantically - they had to get out of New Orleans, she said - what would soon be one of the deadliest and costliest hurricanes was about to eclipse the city, transforming its once festive spirit into a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Adams flipped off the lights, locked the building, and that was the last time he saw his store.

On Wednesday, as Hurricane Isaac churned its way onto the New Orleans' coast, Adams, 46, could not help but remember that same day seven years ago, when Hurricane Katrina took away everything he had ever known.

His house, his job, his city, in shambles. His life, his wife's life and the lives of his five kids, transformed forever.

"I'm still feeling anxiety," said Adams about Isaac making landfall. The Adams were one of thousands of families who evacuated New Orleans in 2005. The family evacuated to Victoria, where he still calls home.

The Crossroads saw an influx of evacuees and the community took them in generously, offering food, shelter and simple kindness.

"I was fortunate," he said.

Adams recalls just making it out of the city. The waters were rising and he and his family were one of the last to leave before the bridges were closed.

His family went to his in-laws' home in Mississippi, but soon enough, that too was flooding. They decided to come to Victoria, where Adams' father lives.

Adams managed to find a job as a manager of a new Walgreens at 5204 N. Navarro St. that was opening at the time.

Since then, nothing has been the same.

Adams still has some family, including his children, who are now grown up, living in Louisiana.

He has called them, trying to convince them to leave while they have the chance.

But they want to stay put.

"They have what I call hurricane alley syndrome," he said of those who do not want to leave. "They are so used to it. They think it's not going to be that bad ... a lot of things can still go wrong."

That mentality is something that worries Anita R. Jackson, a Victoria resident who also evacuated Katrina.

Jackson, 65, evacuated before the storm approached. For her, the horror was watching on TV as the streets became rivers near her home in Broadmoor, a community in Uptown New Orleans.

Jackson and nine family members headed out to what she thought was going to be Austin. She ended up lost and was escorted by two state troopers into the closest city - Victoria.

"The city isn't anything like it was before Katrina," Jackson said. "It will never be the same."

Like Adams, Jackson has an increasing anxiety about Isaac's landfall. The nine family members who came with her have since returned to New Orleans. She has kept in contact and has advised them to leave, but they've chosen to stay.

The Clearview area, where most of her family is, was already flooding Tuesday.

"It's a very sad and distressing situation," she said. "All I can do is pray."

Jackson has never thought about going back to New Orleans because she's found her new home in Victoria, she said.

She has worked with the Citizens Medical Center Healthplex for seven years and has a side business running errands for people.

"I just wouldn't want to be anywhere else," she said. "I just felt like I belonged here. I just couldn't leave ... this is my home."

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