Though Isaac is expected to be just a category 1 hurricane with the potential for much less destruction, many New Orleans residents are still spooked by the eerie reminders of how their city was devastated in 2005, more than 1,800 of their neighbors were killed and all of their lives were changed forever.
In a report on the Huffington Post, several residents talked about how they weren’t taking the same chances this time—as most of them packed up some belongings and headed inland to stay with relatives on safer ground, all the while praying that their home would still be there when they returned.
Linda Grandison in 2005 had to wait on a bridge for more than three days before being rescued by helicopter. This time she’s going to her mother’s house in Gretna, a New Orleans suburb.
“You can’t predict God’s work. This is nerve-wracking,” she told the Huffington Post. “I hate leaving my house, worrying if it’s going to flood or get looted. But I’m not going to stay in the city again.”
While some are easing their fears with the news that Isaac will be just a category 1, others know that with Katrina, it wasn’t the force of the winds that caused the destruction, it was the inadequacy of the levees. Now New Orleans has a better levee system here, thanks to the $14 billion that the Army Corps of Engineers was given to rebuild it. Experts say the city can handle a storm comparable to a Category 3 hurricane.
Isaac is expected to come ashore as early as Tuesday night as a Category 1 storm, striking anywhere from west of New Orleans to the Florida Panhandle.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu said he understood residents’ worries, but tried to reassure them that the city was prepared.
“I think everything will be OK,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu, trying to reassure his constituents.
But nobody can know for sure.
Shawanda Harris, who lost everything she owned when her ground-floor apartment in low-lying eastern New Orleans was flooded during Katrina, pointed out that once again the storm was coming at the end of the month, before people got their paychecks—so anybody who lives from paycheck to paycheck is especially low on funds right now.
“They got rent to pay. They got bills. Payday isn’t until the end of the month, Friday,” she said. “Right now, half our family got money. Some of our family got nothing. That’s why we’re leaving together.”
But perhaps Willie Shook, a former assistant principal, best summed up the proper mind frame with which to meet Isaac.
“Katrina changed a lot of people, for good or bad,” said Shook. “It changed me for the better. It showed me that we don’t really own anything. God gives it to us, and he can take it away. I’m at peace.”