August 29, 2006
One year ago, Hurricane Katrina struck the gulf coast, leaving in it's wake death and destruction that stretched hundreds of miles. For one family that relocated to Charlottesville from New Orleans, it's been an absolute blessing. Isaiah and Alicia Brooks and their four kids evacuated New Orleans just hours before Hurricane Katrina came ashore. They left behind the only home they ever knew, and one year later have begun a new life in what is now a very happy place.
"It was heart throbbing. It was a devastation," said Isaiah Brooks.
Brooks remembers this day last year when Hurricane Katrina tore through his lifetime home. Like so many others, Katrina caused Brooks and his family to evacuate New Orleans. Little did they know they would never return.
"In my mind I was thinking, I have a home to go back to. I've been there 32 years and never left except when I came here," said Alicia Brooks.
"Everything was messed up. A lot of water. She said that the roof had fallen in. The ceiling had caved in," said Isaiah Brooks.
"It was scary at first. It was kind of scary at first. But having the love of my children and husband. And when we got to Charlottesville, we had tremendous help," said Alicia Brooks.
Help began to pour in from everywhere. With the generosity of several local groups, they were reunited with family here in Charlottesville and the healing process began.
"We woke up one morning. We had a porch full of stuff. We didn't know who brought it...It just felt like we were being loved here," said Alicia Brooks.
While all that remains from their lifetime in New Orleans is a few damaged pictures, both Isaiah and Alicia Brooks say they could not feel more blessed with the outcome.
"Charlottesville is a great place to live. It's a place for improvement. It's a great place to raise kids," said Isaiah Brooks.
"I don't care about what we left behind and what we lost. The thing is, we are all alive. All of our family members are alive and that's what really matters," said Alicia Brooks.
The Brooks say they plan to travel back to New Orleans next Mardi Gras. It will be the first time they have been back to see any of the devastation. They have no plans to ever move back, in fact, they are planning to open a soul food restaurant here in Charlottesville. It's sure to have a little New Orleans flair.
Alicia Brooks' mom was the only member of their family to actually rebuild in New Orleans.