Katrina: A year later - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Katrina: A year later

August 28, 2006

Albany - Tuesday marks the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The Category 5 Hurricane claimed more than a thousand lives and left 80 percent of the city of New Orleans under water. Several families victimized by Katrina found housing in Albany.  

Even if you never knew Katrina, her pictures alone can capture you and take you in to this all too real moment in history. One of the most expensive natural disaster's America has ever seen and one of the nation's deadliest hurricanes.

"I've been back four times. It's terrible down there, it's terrible," said Katrina survivor Mary Marallo. "I thought when I went back everything would be the same, but it's not. The people are gone, my house is gone."

All Mary Marallo has now are a lifetime of memories. After the storm, she moved to Albany with her 75 year old mother - was suffering from poor leg circulation. It hasn't been easy. Earlier this year Mary lived through another tragedy... her mother passed away.  

That's when her daughter Melissa and her boyfriend Antonio moved here to comfort her. The experience living in a small town is not quite what this 19 and 22 year old are used to.

"If we get bored, we just walk to the water down there. That's all we can do. We ain't got no transportation to get around. When we get our little money, we go to the mall and go shopping, to the movies."

"The destruction and devastation Katrina caused a year ago left thousands and thousands scrambling to rebuild their lives. Yet for many, Katrina was an awakening washing away their many losses and replacing it with spirit."

Antonio admits the big-city life of New Orleans got him into some trouble over the years. But since he's been here, the church has reached out to him. Its support introduced him to a new way of life.

He now attends every time the church doors open. "To praise the Lord. Change my life. Because in New Orleans, that's all you know about... running the streets, getting in trouble, you never have that life."

Rev. Lorenzo Heard, pastor of Greater 2nd Mt. Olive Church helped Antonio and about 30 other families victimized by Katrina find a place to live. "There were a lot of renovations that had to be done and upgrading the underground utilities but we committed that we would do it too."

The church revitalized this old military housing facility formerly known as Boyett Village. For this close-knit family, it's been a long path to finding peace. But it comes slowly with each new day. "I've got familiar with Albany," said Katrina survivor Antonio Myles. "I've been to the aquarium, I've been to the gym. I wish they had some casinos," he says with a laugh. "I love my house."

And their new found love of God rescued them from the fear and depression they battled for months. "I thank the Lord that I'm a part of God and I thank the Lord that I got to know him."

There's more good news - - Melissa is pregnant. "This is a good place to raise your baby. This is a good place." Some 400 miles away from home.   "There's a lot of violence, a lot of murdering, a lot of killing. It's really bad."

Yet, a few steps closer to a brand new life.   Tuesday, we'll introduce you to another family who moved to Albany and how the community pitched in to help the victims make progress after losing everything in the storm.

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