Katrina forces a homecoming - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Katrina forces a homecoming

September 14, 2005

Albany -- Some Albany natives who lived in New Orleans for the last 24 years are back in their hometown because of Hurricane Katrina.

They lost everything in the flood waters, and say they will not go back to New Orleans again.

Ten evacuees from New Orleans are staying in this South Albany home, where their Grandmother lived. "I remember when I left Albany 24 years ago, I said I would never move back," said Michael Odom.

But Hurricane Katrina brought them back. Michael Odom and Osbia Watson and their family lived in New Orleans East. Watson stayed to ride out the Hurricane.

"I'm glad I stayed," Watson said. "Oh yes, I'm very glad I stayed, because I've never experienced nothing like that before in my life."

Watson's home survived the Hurricane, but when Lake Pontchartrain overflowed its banks, Watson was forced into his attic by eight foot deep flood waters. "I had a radio, and I had food and water. I had enough to live for about another week or so."

At one point Watson used a raft he built out of furniture to rescue a woman from a burning house. "There was this lady hanging out the window. She was screaming and screaming and screaming. So I came up there and grabbed hold of her to bring her out."

Watson was rescued off his roof by helicopter Thursday, and reunited with his family in Dallas. Now back in Albany, he says he won't return to New Orleans. "I don't want to live there anymore."

His brother in law, Michael Odom, evacuated with his family the day before the Hurricane hit. They have lost everything, and also won't go back. "I don't like the way they did the people there. Black, white, don't make no difference. I don't like the way they responded after it happened."

Despite losing everything, this family of New Orleans evacuees say they are blessed to be back in Albany. "They all want us here, and this is the best thing to happen to us, when we came here."

Odom and Watson are laughing, because their family has survived the worst of disasters, and they are still together.

Odom is an off shore oil worker. He also planned to ride out the Hurricane, but his wife talked him into evacuating.

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