Hurricane Katrina survivor makes Huntsville her new home - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Hurricane Katrina survivor makes Huntsville her new home

By Tricia Forbes- email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF)- Sunday marks the 5 year anniversary for Hurricane Katrina.

Thousands of people from Louisiana and Mississippi were evacuated for Hurricane Katrina. The latest census data shows the population in Biloxi has dropped every year since the storm. In the ninth ward of New Orleans, the numbers are even worse. Only 24-percent of the residents there before the levees collapsed have returned.

Carmen Bazile, who left New Orleans, only expected to be away for four days, but five years later she still isn't back in the Crescent City.

Bazile is a retired culinary instructor who was born and raised in New Orleans. The home she lived in just a few blocks from Lake Ponchetrain was immersed in eleven feet of water during the hurricane. She said it wasn't a surprise that a storm was able to cause so much damage in her home city.

"We knew that the big one was going to come. I did not know that I would see the big one in my lifetime, but there was always a preparation for the big storm to come," Bazile said.

The devastation after the storm was so widespread that Carmen and her husband Gregory chose not to return to the city, but instead, moved to Huntsville. She said God gave her the ability to see the change in a positive light.

"That's the grateful part that made me a better woman and not a bitter woman," Bazile said.

Although she doesn't live there anymore, Bazile said she will always love New Orleans. She has also taken up painting as a way to express the emotions she feels about the city and her faith.

"With the God that we serve, he creates in us what he wants expressed to each other, and I'm a totally different person when I'm sitting behind a canvas with a paintbrush in my hand," she said.

Looking back on all that she has gone through in the past five years, Bazile said what she has found is much greater than what she lost.

"It's a part of history that we'll never forget, but today I can smile and today I can thank God that I was one of the survivors and not one of the fatalities."

Bazile said she feels safer in Huntsville and she loves Alabama's natural beauty, but she goes back to New Orleans often to visit friends and family who stayed there to rebuild their lives.

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