Local Katrina Evacuee Adjusts to Life after the Storm

By: Kate Eckman
By: Kate Eckman

As the one-year anniversary approaches, some of those who now call the panhandle home are remembering the most devastating natural disaster in United States history.

Many evacuees throughout the U.S. are still adjusting to life after the big storm.

Marqua Brunette says Hurricane Katrina taught her a valuable lesson. "You never know what's around the corner," she says.

She evacuated New Orleans on August 28th, one day before Hurricane Katrina made landfall.

Brunette headed to the panhandle, stopping in Bay County.

She says it's a move she's never regretted.

"People very early on were very willing to help, and I just kept moving forward,” says Brunette. “I didn't look back and that was the whole thing that made such a huge difference."

The piano and voice teacher says she brought the spirit of New Orleans with her, but she can't imagine going back there to live. "The New Orleans I know and love no longer exists and that's what's really sad," she says.

Although she never plans to return to Louisiana, Brunette says she still misses her life in New Orleans. Her memories are bittersweet.

"It's still a time to mourn,” she says. “It's a constant loss, it's with me every single day."

Music has helped Brunette heal, and adjust to her new life in Panama City, which is an adjustment she says was pretty easy.

Brunette says she felt a sense of community, very early on. "Thank you to the people of Panama City for welcoming me and for making me feel safe and embracing me and giving me opportunities."

According to FEMA, as of August 17th, there were almost 1,700 Katrina evacuees applying for disaster assistance in Panama City.

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