5 Years Later: Hurricane Katrina Evacuees Happy To Call Tulsa Home

Monday, August 23rd 2010, 11:44 am
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Five years ago Monday, a tropical storm formed which would later grow in strength and become Hurricane Katrina. It killed more than 1,800 people and caused $81 billion in damage.

But amid the destruction, Katrina also meant a new beginning for many people who now call Oklahoma home.

A day after Hurricane Katrina hit, flood water covered 80 percent of New Orleans. The storm left most of the city in ruins.

During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Tulsa area hosted thousands of evacuees.

The Tulsa Chapter of the American Red Cross says they assisted 2,500 families who came to the Tulsa area due to Katrina.

"I wasn't taking it lightly," said Christina Joseph, who is a New Orleans native.

Thankfully, James and Christina Joseph and their children got out a day before the hurricane hit. A decision the family has never regretted.

"Home is not what it used to be. Tulsa is now home," said Christina.

"One thing I definitely took from that is that God has a way of repositioning you. You have to be able to move when something along that magnitude happens," said James Joseph, who is a New Orleans native.

When Katrina hit New Orleans, the Joseph's lost a lot, but gained opportunity in Oklahoma.

"In Tulsa, people can make it. In New Orleans, it's poverty," said Christina.

To start, the Joseph's say there are more jobs, with better pay. Joseph works as a school bus driver for kids with special needs.

"When I was in New Orleans, a lot of the jobs, I was just basically making a check, and I feel like now, I'm making a difference," said James.

The couple likes Tulsa's schools, and the much lower crime in Oklahoma.

"Tulsa has nothing on their crime. This is home," Christina said.

Although home is now in the heartland, the family still misses many things about New Orleans. They visit a couple of times each year, but they say the 9th Ward, where they lived, hasn't improved much in five years.

"I miss home, what home used to be. It's nothing like that anymore," said Christina.

As we hit the fifth anniversary of Katrina, they look back and reflect on what the family has been through, but also look forward to a promising future in Tulsa.

"I'm definitely grateful and without a doubt, I wouldn't change it for the world," said James.

The Joseph's say they enjoy being able to let their kids go outside to play in Tulsa, without fear of them being hurt by violence. That wasn't the case in the 9th Ward.

They also hope to become first time home buyers within the next five years.

2/7/2010  Related Story: Displaced Saints Fans In Tulsa Celebrate Super Bowl Victory

8/29/2007  Related Story: Katrina Evacuee Happy With Her New Life In Oklahoma

8/28/2006  Related Story: Lasting Impact Of Hurricane Katrina On Evacuees In Tulsa