Lasting Impact Of Hurricane Katrina On Evacuees In Tulsa

Monday, August 28th 2006, 10:30 am
By: News On 6

Tuesday marks the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and it still remains unclear what will become of New Orleans. 80 percent of the city was submerged when the levees broke, forcing just about all of New Orleans' 465,000 residents and a million more in the area to flee.

One year later, News on 6 anchor Craig Day talks with some evacuees who now make Tulsa home.

Despite being uprooted and nearly losing everything, James Joseph considers himself a lucky man. The Hurricane Katrina evacuee found work in Tulsa as a transit bus driver. Joseph spends his day shuttling people in need, many disabled and counting his blessings. "I'll even go as far as to say, sometimes God has to take you out of your comfort zone to bless you, you know."

James believes behind every dark cloud, there is a bright day. He knows that firsthand. James, his wife Christina and their four children fled Hurricane Katrina a day before the massive storm hit. Christina Joseph: “He was sleeping that morning and I said look, me and the kids are packed up. I have a bag for you. You either come now, or swim later."

The Joseph's brought those bags and their family pictures to Tulsa, uncertain how long they would stay and unknowing what their future would bring. Christina Joseph: "It seems like last month that we've been gone."

They've since settled into life far from New Orleans. The Joseph's say housing is nicer and more affordable in Tulsa. And in Oklahoma, there are much better schools. Christina Joseph: "There's just no future in New Orleans right now."

New Orleans will always be dear to their hearts, and although they miss family and familiarity, they'll stay in Tulsa, where there is optimism and opportunity. James Joseph: "We're all just basically living and just taking it a day at a time and trusting in God that everything will be ok."

The Joseph's say faith played the most important role in seeing them through such a life altering event. They've leaned on church members during trying times. The New Orleans' natives say they've been amazed by the kindness and generosity of people in Oklahoma.