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Hurricane Katrina survivor living in Norfolk worried about relatives in Ida's path

Tropical Storm Hurricane Ida
Posted at 7:56 PM, Aug 30, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - "It feels like it was yesterday," said Denise Charbonnet.

Sixteen years ago, Charbonnet was trapped in her East New Orleans home.

"All of a sudden there was a loud 'boom,' and the water was rushing in my home and up to the ceiling," she recalled.

As Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the world watched as people were stranded in floodwaters and rescued off roofs. Charbonnet was one of them.

"I was placed in a harness and lifted from the second floor balcony into the helicopter," she said.

On Sunday, Charbonnet, now living in Norfolk, watched Hurricane Ida with her 150 mph winds hammer into her hometown.

"I became very concerned and concerned it seemed worse than Katrina because it was coming fast, and I was worried about the high winds," she said.

Worried even more as her sister and brother and many nieces and nephews didn't evacuate the Category 4 hurricane.

"I talked with them every hour on hour until yesterday at 6 p.m., and that's when power went out and I haven't been able to reach them since," she stated.

More than a million people are currently in the dark after Ida's Sunday slam into the Big Easy. Charbonnet is watching the minutes tick by, hoping to hear from her family.

"I am very concerned, but I know they are survivors and they are resilient," said Charbonnet.

Related: Norfolk resident talks surviving Hurricane Katrina, Laura heading towards family in Louisiana

Charbonnet says there will be no question she would evacuate if faced with a future storm and hopes everyone else will heed her advice after hearing her story.

"I just hope and pray the people will make it through this and survive and be safe," she said.