12 years after Katrina, survivor in Chicago sympathizes with Harvey victims

Evelyn Holmes Image
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
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Sharon Mathieu, who survived Hurricane Katrina in 2005, came to Chicago. Now, she is sympathizing with Hurricane Harvey victims.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Sharon Mathieu survived Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and came to Chicago to start over.

Now, she is watching the news and sympathizing with victims of Harvey, which has caused catastrophic damage and flooding along the Texas Gulf Coast.

"You look at the pictures and you see things that you saw during Katrina. It brings everything back," Mathieu said.

She said starting over was hard.

"You realize how much you've buried so to speak and you have feelings for the people who are going through it," Mathieu said.

Twelve years ago, Mathieu left New Orleans and everything she knew after the disaster forced her and her elderly mother to evacuate.

"Everything was taken away, job, home. I lost my mother two months after Katrina because of the move. She was 90," she said.

She relocated to Chicago to be closer to her daughter and her family. She said she feels for those who took shelter in Houston only to once again be besieged.

"It's traumatic and you know what those people are going through. You watch them cry and it pulls at your heart strings because you know why they're crying and you know they're never going to forget this," Mathieu said.

Tuesday afternoon, as she remembers her own battle to survive and to heal, she has a message for the people of Houston, which comes from wisdom her father once shared with her: "It is what it is and this too shall pass. It did for me. Chicago welcomed me. I'm grateful for that. Hang in there."

Mathieu said she's also planning on eventually heading down to Houston to check on a friend who now lives at a senior assisted living facility. Twelve year ago, that same friend opened her home to her during the Katrina disaster.