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Hurricane Katrina survivor regrets not evacuating her home

8:02 PM, Aug 29, 2010   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- Katrina claimed the lives of 1,800 people and left behind millions of dollars in property damage.

Lacy Hartley was living in Waveland, Mississippi when Hurricane Katrina was approaching the area and made a decision to stay at home after talking with neighbors.

"They said, 'No, we're not going to leave. We were here in 1969 for Hurricane Camille and we didn't get a drop of water, so we're going to stay,'" Hartley said.

Hartley and her family decided they would be safe in their attic until the storm blew over, but they weren't safe for long.

"You could see this wall of water coming right at you and within five minutes, I had water that was five or six inches deep, was now six feet deep inside my house," Hartley said.

The family knew they were in for a long night and stayed in the attic.

"For twelve hours we were up in our attic and everybody talks about New Orleans and what happened in New Orleans was terrible, but the Mississippi Gulf Coast got the storm surge," Hartley said.

The family made a decision to leave the house and, after finding higher ground, they began to walk, hoping to find a shelter.

"There were trees down everywhere, then you're worried about electrical lines, you're worried about propane tanks, you're worried about what's in the water. Are there snakes? Are there alligators?" Hartley said.

The family walked for three miles and finally arrived at the shelter.

"When, I got there, it was one of the saddest things I've ever seen. There were elderly people wearing basketball uniforms because they didn't have clothes and there were babies screaming because they didn't have food," Hartley said.

Lacy relocated her family to St. Petersburg. She's been living here for the last four years and she says her advice to people who are asked to evacuate for a hurricane, is to evacuate.

"Water doesn't stop a mile from the beach. Water came in from Katrina for 10 miles. It was horrible and I'm not talking about two or three feet of water. I'm talking people died, people drowned," Hartley said

She says the decision to wait the storm out was the worst decision she's ever made.

We're in the heart of hurricane season, so now is the time to make sure you have an evacuation plan and know your evacuation zone.

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