East Texas Katrina evacuees remember the day they lost everything

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Four years after one of the deadliest hurricanes in America, some Katrina evacuees remember the struggles that brought them to East Texas.

At four years old, Quinnton Marshall already knows what it's like to have nothing and start all over.

"The hurricane tore up my house," said Marshall.

Now, he lives in East Texas with his sister and his grandmother Vanessa Ross.  All of them are Katrina evacuees from New Orleans.

"You just couldn't imagine how hard it's been.  You know seeing that everything you had, you worked so hard for, then it's just gone in a blink of the eye," said Ross.

"It's like a big circle that tore up my house and it went around and around and around," Marshall explained.

He's young, but after losing his mother, he understands what a hurricane can do.   His grandmother said Katrina made her already ill daughter worse.

"It was devastating for me," Ross said.

She buried her daughter and went back to see what the hurricane had left.

"When we did get a chance to go back, oh my God, it was horrible," Ross said.  "Seeing your house destroyed.  I'm 53 years old, I had my own business and stuff.  All that's gone."

Ross has pictures of the damage, but the images in her mind will never leave.

"If I hadn't of seen this for myself, I wouldn't have [ever] believed water could do what I saw...The furniture was broke in half, mildew on the walls, all of our clothes destroyed.  All I could do is cry," said Ross.

"I said what happened to my school," said Marshall's sister Ashaurhean Mable.  "I guess the Hurricane ate it all up and stuff."

"We had nothing, I mean nothing," Ross said.  "That was horrible."

So, what does Ross take from a hurricane so devastating she credits it with robbing her of everything including her daughter?

"Don't ever take [anything] for granted," Ross said.

Appreciating everything, including the home she has now, even though she misses New Orleans.

"Sometimes I feel like I want to go home and then sometimes not really because...It'll never be the same," Ross said.  "I'm 53 years old, you know, you say oh my God how am I going to start all over at this age, you know."

However, she has, and four years later she said she's the one that's blessed.

"I wouldn't trade [anything] in the world for what I have...God still gave me life.  I could've been dead...I'm just grateful.  That's it, grateful," Ross smiled.

Ross said the kids will be going to school in Nacogdoches and she's found a new, extended family in her East Texas friends.

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