Hurricane Katrina Victim Rebuilds Her Life Again After Louisiana Floods
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Today is the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Some people whose homes were destroyed in that storm 11 years ago are now going through it again. Last week, I was in Baton Rouge some two hours' drive northwest of New Orleans, and I met 42-year-old Kevia Bolds standing on the sidewalk. The soggy guts of her home were piled on the curb. The house took on more than four feet of water when rainstorms hit Baton Rouge earlier this month. And she's familiar with all the emotions that come with losing a home because her family lived in New Orleans until Katrina destroyed that house.
KEVIA BOLDS: The difference between Katrina and here is that we didn't have a warning. We just thought it was normal rain and just - it was just a hard rain that never stopped.
SHAPIRO: Tell me about your family's decision to come to Baton Rouge. Why did you decide to come here?
BOLDS: To be closer to New Orleans. Like, we did not want to live in New Orleans. We still have property and we still - the home that my parents and where I grew up is still in New Orleans. New Orleans will always be my home. That's where I'm from. That's where I was raised. But I didn't want to go back.
SHAPIRO: What was going through your head living through this for a second time?
BOLDS: I'm completely numb. It's just like, oh, my God, I'm going through this again. I have to start all over. But this time, you know, what's different is I do have some memories. From Katrina, I don't have anything. I don't have any pictures or anything to show my daughter what my life was like when I was a little girl. I don't have any memories. We lost everything in Katrina. So for me, it's - I'm just - it's different. I mean, it hurts a whole heck of a lot to go through it again. It's very emotional. Of course I've cried.
I've cried a lot and I've prayed a whole hell of a lot - excuse me (laughter). I prayed a lot (laughter). I've prayed a lot, but, you know, I just have to wake up every morning and just figure out what my next step is going to be.
SHAPIRO: I see a truck's going by with a flooded car on the back of it...
SHAPIRO: ...Hauling away a car that's damaged in the flood.
BOLDS: Yeah, a lot of people lost their cars. A lot of people lost a lot of their memories. I mean, as you can see here, these are all of my things that's on a curve that I've lost that I rebuilt with my daughter but...
SHAPIRO: And this is the second time in your life you've had to do that.
BOLDS: Yes, yes, it is the second time that I had to do it again. But, you know, at the end, it's going to all work out. And it's just starting over. And it's just a fresh start. This time around, I do have a child. So I have to put my big girl clothes on and suck it up and just do what I have to do. You know, I can't just walk around with my head down and say, you know, what am I going to do? We just have to get busy and rebuild.
SHAPIRO: You've got a lot of neighbors here who have just been flooded out for the first time.
SHAPIRO: Since you've been through this before, what advice are you giving them?
BOLDS: Basically just stay strong and, you know, just keep a clear head because you do have to think about the next step. You know, it's not going to come easy to you and it's not going to come all at one time. You know, everyone is looking for fast things, and it does not happen that way. You know, for me, it's just, like, just embrace your environment. It's only temporary. But what I have noticed about Baton Rouge, which I admire, is the help that people are receiving from neighbors and friends. And like me with my daughters, her classmate father is over here now helping me gut out my house.
On Saturday, a bunch of parents came over and they helped me clear out my house. You know, that means a lot to me. Being a single mom, it's just, like, I'm thinking, I have to think for myself. And I have to think for her. So it's like, OK. Oh, my God, what am I going to do? Who am I going to get to help me? And these people actually stepped up. And it's - being on a forefront and actually receiving the help is unbelievably amazing. I mean, it's God-sent, it really is.
SHAPIRO: Thank you for sharing your story with us...
BOLDS: Thank you.
SHAPIRO: ...And good luck rebuilding.
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SHAPIRO: That's Kevia Bolds who survived Hurricane Katrina 11 years ago and is now gutting her house after storms in Baton Rouge destroyed her home again. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.