BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) – As Hurricane Laura batters our neighbors in Louisiana, it is a stark reminder of the devastation that was felt 15 years ago on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
The strong category three storm, which had sustained winds up to 175 mph, caused wind damage and storm surges across the entire Mississippi coast. Trees bent in the wind, while rising water stranded people on their rooftops.
Now, 15 years later, Hurricane Katrina is simply referred to by locals as “the storm,” with time being marked as “before the storm” or “after the storm.”
Laurie Quave Rosetti was one of many who returned home to find everything in chaos. She said all anyone could do was watch the devastation unfold around them.
“I saw a shot of my aunt’s house, which was right off the interstate in D’Iberville, and the water was to the pitch of her roof,” said Rosetti. “I just knew that a lot of people had died and we couldn’t do anything.”
Rosetti and her family evacuated just one day before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, but returning back to Biloxi is when the devastation really hit home.
“So many houses had completely come apart,” she recalled. “My aunt’s house is just right behind me. Her house was missing the entire backside. We had four neighbors to die, to perish, in the storm and it just really affects you.”
For Rosetti, the feeling of loss was one she had experienced before. At the age of seven, she lived through Hurricane Camille, which hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast on Aug. 22, 1969.
Camille also left behind a wake of destruction along the coast and claimed the lives of 259 people in Mississippi.
“The water just started to rise… just unbelievable, like a bathtub, like filling up a bathtub,” she said. “Inside our home, we had about four feet of water and they put me on the kitchen table. We had relatives, we had neighbors, who had come to our house because our house was actually higher than their’s. We had neighbors two streets over that died. It was just a horrible night.”
Her own children were around the same age when Hurricane Katrina made landfall. That’s why she decided to evacuate the day before the storm hit.
“We had young elementary school aged boys at that time and I didn’t want them to go through what I went through in Camille,” said Rosetti. “I didn’t want them to have those memories, and that fear and that anxiety, the rest of their lives.”
For Rosetti and many others survivors, this week marks a time when lives were forever changed.
To mark the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, wreaths will be placed by Gov. Tate Reeves on Saturday at the Katrina memorials in Pass Christian and Biloxi. A memorial blood drive is also taking place this week.
Chancelor was born in Jacksonville, FL., and is an avid Jaguars fan! He’s called the Gulf Coast home since 2007 when he moved to Pensacola, graduating from the University of West Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism.
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