Reggie Joseph, the sophomore receiver, is from La Place, La., just 30 miles west of New Orleans, between the Bonnet Carre River and Lake Pontchartrain. On Monday afternoon, Joseph said his family had evacuated La Place Sunday, some going to Houston, Texas, and others to Baton Rouge, La.
“I’m not sure about my house or my neighborhood, but my family got out; everybody evacuated and they’re fine,” Joseph said.
Joseph, 19, said he has memories of Hurricane Andrew, which devastated parts of Florida and Louisiana in 1992. To date, Andrew was the most expensive hurricane disaster ever in the United States, costing an estimated $26.5 billion in damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Officials have said Katrina’s cost could surpass Andrew.
“Most of the hurricanes always spin left or right of us, but (Katrina) was pretty big and it came straight on,” Joseph said.
One of the biggest concerns about Katrina hitting the New Orleans area is flooding, as much of the city and its outlying parishes are below sea level. Joseph said, however, flooding was not the primary concern in La Place.
“Where my town is, flooding shouldn’t be a problem, unless the spillway over-flows, or Lake Pontchartrain over-flows,” he said. “I think most of the damage that hit us was from wind.”
Thaddaeus Washington is a junior linebacker from Marrero, La., just south across the river from New Orleans. Unlike La Place, Marrero is lower than sea level, and Washington said both flooding and wind is a major concern there. He said his family left Marrero early Sunday morning and drove to Mississippi.
Katrina was, at one point, estimated to hit New Orleans directly, which caused officials to order evacuations from the Gulf Coast city. Blomberg News report said winds of 135 mph hit the city in the past 24 hours, and that parts of the city are under at least three feet of water.
At 4 p.m. Monday (CDT), the hurricane warning over Lake Pontchartrain was downgraded to a tropical storm warning. The storm turned toward the northeast Monday and several reports say that coastal communities in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have suffered extensive damage so far.