New Orleans natives remember Hurricane Katrina 10 years later

About 10,000 people affected by Hurricane Katrina traveled to the Austin area for shelter. The Austin Convention Center housed 5,000 of them.

Now, 10 years after the storm many survivors are celebrating life after Katrina.

"I wouldn't have made it. I would be dead," said Deana Thomas who left her home in New Orleans the morning Hurricane Katrina made landfall. 

Deana's father decided to stay and face the storm. 
"Mind you that my dad is a survivor. He's from Haiti so he knows how to survive when it's time to survive. He stayed on the roof for about 7-8 days. He was eating canned goods out of the can," Thomas said.  
Deana said she spent one day at the superdome before catching a ride to Houston, unsure whether her dad would make it out of the city.
"I didn't see him for three years. That was like the most devastating part because I had to live three years without knowing was my dad alive? Did he die in the storm? In my mind I knew he was a survivor and I know he has been through a lot, but in my mind I really had thought that he was gone," said Deana.  
Then one day she found out just how tough her dad really was.  
 "About three years later the Red Cross contacted me and told me they found my dad in Austin, Texas," Deana said.  
Her father was one of the 5,000 people that were cared for by Red Cross volunteers at the Austin Convention Center. 
"I think about it almost every day. I remember right before the evacuees got to the Convention Center, the Mayor had arranged to have showers built and we had the cots laid out on the floor. I walked through in that moment of peace thinking, 'This can't be happening,'" said CEO of the American Red Cross Central & South Texas Marty McKellips who was a Red Cross volunteer during the aftermath of Katrina. 
That was a decade ago and so much has changed in Austin and New Orleans. Although time has made it easier to talk about, it is still difficult for New Orleans natives to see the damage left behind. 
"So I'm trying to get them together where we can just have fun and let them know it's going to be okay. Let's just party like we do in New Orleans," said Darold Gordon who owns the Big Easy Bar and Grill in East Austin.  
On this tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Gordon invited those from New Orleans to the bar to remember what they went through and maybe more importantly how they survived. 
"It just shows that a lot of people that stayed we do have a bond and it brings us together this time of the year," said Deana.
The Red Cross does have the ability to register people in areas hit by disaster, so that friends and family members can check their status online. That can be done by visiting the American Red Cross.  
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