TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Nearly five years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, the city's healing continues, but scars remain. The water carried homes away, sending many families headed to East Texas for a new start.
"We were just one of hundreds of thousands of stories that were going on in New Orleans," said Lanelle Picarella, a registered nurse for Trinity Mother Frances.
Five years since the storm and 80% of the Big Easy's residents have moved back home. Picarella makes up the other 20%.
"We were thinking we'd be gone for a week," said Picarella. "We expected water but we didn't expect the damage that happened."
The Picarellas left before dawn the day Katrina arrived. The next time Picarella saw her city was on TV.
"A lot of the images are places I'd been, people that we knew that lived in those areas," she remembered.
The Picarella home would never be lived in again, leaving a family with nothing but their faith.
"If you don't have that to hold on to and to realize there's more than just possessions and earthly places to be, then it makes it very difficult when you lose those earthly things," said Picarella.
A blessing came in the form of a job at Trinity Mother Frances Hospital.
"This opportunity gave me a chance to keep myself busy mentally and also feel like I was making a difference," said Picarella.
Today Picarella brings skills from her New Orleans hospital to East Texas - her hometown a far cry from the one she left behind.
"Is it the same New Orleans? Absolutely not," she said. "When you go through a trauma like that, no, but are there the friendships, the comradery, is there the multiculturalism, the togetherness we have in New Orleans? Yeah, it's still there."
It is a bond forging a new future, five years and counting.
Picarella says her time in New Orleans is limited to several visits a year. She says there are not plans to move back.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 3:08 PM EDT2013-05-21 19:08:59 GMT
Two Bristol men were arrested for allegedly stealing $25,000 worth of scrap metal from a business in Southington.Gary M. Desrochers and Nicholas B. Marin are accused of stealing 39,000 pounds of "tool-gradeMore >
Two Bristol men were arrested for allegedly stealing $25,000 worth of scrap metal from a business in Southington.More >
Tuesday, May 21 2013 6:03 PM EDT2013-05-21 22:03:06 GMT
A family spokesperson told Eyewitness News that the body of a missing Eastern Connecticut State University student was found dismembered. Alyssiah Wiley was last seen since April 20 when she said she wasMore >
A family spokesperson told Eyewitness News that the body of a missing Eastern Connecticut State University student was found dismembered.More >
Tuesday, May 21 2013 3:46 PM EDT2013-05-21 19:46:33 GMT
ESPN says that it is cutting its workforce. The sports media giant said in a statement Tuesday: "We are implementing changes across the company to enhance our continued growth while smartly managing costs."More >
Tuesday, May 21 2013 10:16 PM EDT2013-05-22 02:16:08 GMT
Residents in tornado-stricken Moore, OK, await news on missing love ones Tuesday, a day after a massive tornado devastated the city, killing at least 51. Rescuers worked all night, with particular attentionMore >
The tornado, with winds up to 200 mph, cut a 20-mile stretch as wide as two miles through the Oklahoma City metro area. The medical examiner's office reported 24 people died, including nine children. More >
Tuesday, May 21 2013 8:26 PM EDT2013-05-22 00:26:23 GMT
A Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been issued for the all of northern Connecticut until 9 p.m.National Weather Service officials said people should be on the lookout for threatening weather and to pay attentionMore >
Tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings were issued in Litchfield county Tuesday evening as severe weather moved into the state.More >
Tuesday, May 21 2013 11:55 AM EDT2013-05-21 15:55:17 GMT
A 18-month old baby was found not breathing at a home in Enfield Monday afternoon.Officers were called to a home on Cottage Green in the Thompsonville section of the city. Investigators found the babyMore >
Enfield police said they were investigating the death of a 19-month-old boy that was reported Monday evening.More >
Monday, May 20 2013 7:12 PM EDT2013-05-20 23:12:34 GMT
Wallingford police are looking into three college-aged girls who are going door to door looking to make more than just a sale, they're looking for a place to stay.Neighbors from East Side Drive, MeadowMore >
Wallingford police are looking into three college-aged girls who are going door-to-door looking to make more than just a sale, they're looking for a place to stay.More >
Monday, May 20 2013 11:48 PM EDT2013-05-21 03:48:15 GMT
A woman has been arrested after she allegedly locked her four young daughters out of their home for days at a time.A witness told police that the four girls, ages 7, 5, 3 and 1, had been in the same dirtyMore >
A woman has been arrested after she allegedly locked her four young daughters out of their home for days at a time.More >
Tuesday, May 21 2013 9:09 PM EDT2013-05-22 01:09:17 GMT
Happy Saturday, Rain is on its way – as expected – but it will not hamper the entire weekend. Early this morning, there will be low clouds, fog and drizzle in many parts of Connecticut. This will haveMore >