Local family shares experience of evacuating ahead of a hurricane

MONROE, La. (KNOE) As thousands make the tough decision to evacuate their homes ahead of Tropical Storm Barry, a local family is sharing their experience of what it’s like to leave everything behind.

The Eugene Family evacuated New Orleans, and headed to Monroe ahead of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. (Source: KNOE)

“I’d tell them, don’t mess around. Get your stuff, get your children, get your family and get on the highway,” said Ida Eugene.

A message this family to people lingering around Southern Louisiana awaiting Barry’s arrival.

Ida Eugene took her own advice more than decade ago when her and her family evacuated to Monroe from New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina. Seeing this week’s storm coverage has brought back those terrifying memories.

“It do, it brings back memories back flashbacks when we were getting all our stuff together but like I said we did not wait around,” said Eugene.

If given the chance to evacuate this storm, this family says they would. A massive flood event in Monroe back in 2016 reminded them of just that.

“Anything that causes you to lose something rather it’s a lot of a little, it’s still the same amount of time because when my mama house flooded here in 2016 we had to get everything out,” said Tiffany Jackson, Eugene’s daughter.

“When I saw the water getting up to the doorstep I just busted out crying saying, ‘oh my God. We’re about to lose everything again,’” said Eugene.

Losing everything from that deadly storm has this left this questioning people’s to ride out a storm if they have the chance to leave.

“Some people they’re still not taking it seriously. I don’t know how much you got to lose before they take it seriously. Because you can just go back. Just leave and go back,” said Jackson.

It’s a question that hits close to the heart of Ida’s husband, Nathan Eugene. Nathan let Ida and the rest of her family leave while he stayed behind in New Orleans.

“I stayed behind to protect my property, but it didn’t work. I tried to save all my family’s valuables, but it didn’t work. And that’s because [Katrina] was so powerful.”

Some of those memories were too painful for Nathan to talk about.

“Know what memory stands out the most? To be honest with you, seeing those bodies floating.”

Overcome with emotion, Nathan declined to continue the interview.

“That’s me. I’m done with this now,” said Nathan.

“He saw all that and experienced it. It’s all coming back,” said Ida.

“I can’t take it. Sorry sir,” said Nathan.

It’s an experience they say has taken a toll emotionally, but has made their family’s bond stronger than ever.

For the latest on Tropical Storm Barry, be sure to download the KNOE Storm Team Weather app on your smartphone.