Kate Quarrella Beard lived in New Orleans when it flooded after Hurricane Katrina
Now she has left her home in Dickinson, Texas, because of flooding
The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and the ongoing flooding in Houston have already, almost inevitably, drawn comparisons with Hurricane Katrina.
The latest images playing out on television are, in many ways, reminiscent of August 2005, when New Orleans’ federal levees fell apart, ushering a powerful storm surge into the city and displacing thousands of residents.
About 80% of the New Orleans was flooded, and 200,000 properties were ruined. As in Houston, people waded through flooded streets and climbed on rooftops to wait for rescue. More than 1,500 people died.
For Kate Quarrella Beard, a resident of Dickinson, Texas, just outside Houston, the predictions and warnings trumpeted in recent days sounded familiar.
“When we got up at 2 a.m. yesterday morning, we watched the news for 14 hours,” Beard told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin on Monday. “And it was literally like watching everything that I had already been through one time happen right again in front of my eyes. So it was really hard.”
’Katrina … made me a realist’
Beard lived in Kenner, Louisiana, just outside New Orleans, when Katrina hit. She later relocated to Texas.
Her Katrina experience prepared her for what Harvey dropped on her doorstep Sunday morning as flooding began to sweep the region, she said.
Beard, who is six months pregnant, fled Dickinson on Monday with her 18-month-old son in tow. Now, she’s in New Orleans at her parents’ house.
When the floods come, she said, all people can do is grab their most important documents and mementos – and leave.
“After Katrina, it made me a realist,” Beard said. “I know anything can happen at any given time, so I take zero chances.”
’I’m going to need counseling’
Fellow Katrina survivor Iashia Nelson told CNN her experience in Louisiana helped her guide her neighbors through Harvey’s wrath. Nelson was staying at a family friend’s second-story home and told her hosts to fill up the bathtub in case the faucet ran dry, often a result of flooding, she said.
As floodwaters rose, other families arrived at the home, and eventually about 30 people gathered there.
Nelson recalled breaking a window and propping chairs in the opening to help everyone, including children, climb to the roof, where they wanted for 15 hours.
Nelson ended up at a shelter at the convention center in Houston, she said. The experience brought back bad memories from Katrina – and she’s having trouble sleeping, she said.
“I think I’m going to need counseling after this,” Nelson said.
After the 2005 flood, many evacuees ended up in other cities as officials in New Orleans dealt with the tragedy and early recovery. In all, more than 1 million Gulf Coast residents were displaced after Katrina.
Beard moved to Texas after that flood, but her experience 12 years ago in New Orleans showed her how a community can rally together, she said.
“We went through it once and came back stronger than ever,” she said. “And I know that being in the Houston area, we’ll have many people who will reach out to us and help again and rebuild and come back even stronger. The community literally will be bigger and stronger and prevail over this.”