'We were devastated': Durham couple remembers Hurricane Katrina like it was yesterday

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DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) — A Durham couple remembers Hurricane Katrina like it was yesterday; Sunday, Aug. 29, marks 16 years since it first hit New Orleans as Hurricane Ida washes over the city.

Victoria Olsen and Dale Bellard had their home stripped away from them as Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in Mississippi back in 2005.

“The house came down on top of us while we were there… I mean it was a mess,” said Katrina survivor Dale Bellard. “We were devastated when we came here.”

Bellard said the storm took everything from them and only left them the clothes on their back.

The two get anxious every anniversary whenever they hear reports of a hurricane along the coast.

They have family and friends currently living along the Gulf Coast in south Louisiana and Mississippi who are feeling the impact of Hurricane Ida.

RELATED: Volunteers across NC head to Gulf Coast to help with Hurricane Ida disaster relief

“My God, all I can do is pray for the people and tell ’em there is a life after the hurricane – you just gotta keep pushing,” Bellard said. “You gotta be safe and use your head.”

Olsen is not only thinking about the impacts of Ida, but also the ongoing pandemic that continues to put a strain on hospitals.

She says it brings back all of the memories of Katrina for both of them.

“I think it’s even scarier with the people who are in shelters and everything with the COVID. I’d bet you anything they are not wearing a mask.” Olsen said. “You don’t know those people. It’s another world.”

Prior to Ida’s landfall in Louisiana, the state reported more than 3,400 new COVID-19 cases and 61 deaths.

Red Cross has since opened additional shelters in Louisiana to offer more social distancing — guests and staff will be required to wear a mask.

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