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Isaac brings back painful Katrina memories

 FILE - This Aug, 31, 2005 file photo shows a man pushing his bicycle through flood waters near the Superdome in  New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina ...
 Brenda Johns, 66, a survivor of Katrina says she trusts the Lord will protect her and her next door neighbor, but is taking no chances, securing her ...
 Willie Shooks, right, and Brenda Johns, next door neighbors and survivors of Hurricane Katrina seven years ago, say while they trust the Lord will pr...
 Willie Shook, 65, a survivor of Hurricane Katrina, takes a break from assisting her neighbor's packing up her belongings in preparation of leaving th...

Katrina Legacy

FILE - This Aug, 31, 2005 file photo shows a man pushing his bicycle through flood waters near the Superdome in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina ...

Tropical Weather

Brenda Johns, 66, a survivor of Katrina says she trusts the Lord will protect her and her next door neighbor, but is taking no chances, securing her ...

Tropical Weather

Willie Shooks, right, and Brenda Johns, next door neighbors and survivors of Hurricane Katrina seven years ago, say while they trust the Lord will pr...

Tropical Weather

Willie Shook, 65, a survivor of Hurricane Katrina, takes a break from assisting her neighbor's packing up her belongings in preparation of leaving th...

As Isaac stormed down a path that is eerily similar to Hurricane Katrina, it raised familiar fears and old anxieties in a city still recovering from a near-mortal blow seven years ago. Though it is far less powerful than the storm that crippled New Orleans, the system is forecast to make landfall on the seventh anniversary of Katrina.
If Isaac comes ashore here, it will find a different city than the one blasted by Katrina. This New Orleans has a bigger, better levee system and other improvements designed to endure all but the most destructive storms. Many neighborhoods have rebuilt. Some remain desolate, filled with empty, dilapidated homes.
The Army Corps of Engineers was given about $14 billion to improve flood defenses, and most of the work has been completed. 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.
As she loaded supplies into her car to prepare for Isaac, Linda Grandison's mind rewound to the nightmare of Katrina: Back in 2005, she had to flee her family's flooded home and waited on a bridge for more than three days before being rescued by helicopter.
This time, Grandison is not taking any chances. She will stay with her mother in the New Orleans suburb of Gretna, which did not flood in Katrina. The house has a generator to keep the refrigerator running if power goes out, and she has enough charcoal to grill out for days.
"You can't predict God's work. This is nerve-wracking," she said. "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."
Mayor Mitch Landrieu said he understood residents' worries, but tried to reassure them that the city was prepared.
"I think everything will be OK," he said.
But people in this city aren't easily soothed because they've never forgotten the images of families stranded at the decrepit Louisiana Superdome, people begging for help at the convention center and President Bush's back-slapping congratulatory remarks to then-FEMA Director Michael Brown.
Shawanda Harris lost everything she owned when her ground-floor apartment in low-lying eastern New Orleans was flooded during Katrina. She was on the phone with family and friends Monday as she waited for the latest update on Isaac from the mayor. The neighborhood was packing up and leaving.
Harris planned to caravan out of the city with relatives and head inland to another family house outside New Orleans.
"People ain't taking chances now," she said, keeping an eye on a television that was swarmed with the radar images of Isaac looming over the Gulf of Mexico.
Harris said the preparations were bringing back a lot of unease and heartache reminiscent of 2005.
"It was scary. My whole family was separated. They couldn't find me. The Red Cross had called and told my mom that they found me dead," she recalled.
She said Isaac was coming _ just as Katrina did _ at the end of the month, when many people are low on money.
"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."
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Associated Press writers Cain Burdeau and Stacey Plaisance contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-06-20 05:43 GMT+08:00