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Atlanta-based Katrina survivors heartbroken as Harvey batters Houston

"It is just so painful to see that and to see the people now in Houston walking through that water, it just breaks my heart."

ATLANTA -- A couple now living in Atlanta said they evacuated New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina started causing damage there 12 years ago this week.

The images of their hometown they saw on the news were heartbreaking to see and now they're seeing similar images out of Texas.

"New Orleans, there is something about it,” Beatrice Soublet said. “If you're born there, if you drink the water then you always want to come back."

But after Hurricane Katrina, Beatrice and her husband Lawrence never again called New Orleans home.
Engaged at the time they evacuated just before the flooding. Lawrence came back later to find his possessions in the front yard of his destroyed home.

"There was a whole mountain of stuff outside waiting to be picked up - I mean, I lost everything," Lawrence said.

Like thousands of others, Beatrice and Lawrence relocated to Dallas for a short time before restarting their lives in Atlanta. Now, images of Katrina's destruction are coming back to them as they watch Harvey flooding Texas.

"It is just so painful to see that and to see the people now in Houston walking through that water, it just breaks my heart," Beatrice said.

And their hearts are breaking for Lawrence's niece - also a Katrina survivor.

On Facebook, she posted a video of her flooded home in Houston before needing to be rescued.

"I'm amazed,” Lawrence said. “I'm amazed she can stay so calm."

The Soublets said their niece's updates on Facebook bring them relief 12 years after Katrina when families couldn't connect as easily through social media.

"In a lot of cases, we weren't able to communicate with members of the family to let them know we were okay," Lawrence said.

And thankfully, they said, the number of deaths is much lower as reports of rescue after rescue come in.

"It seems those people are there earlier to rescue them,” Beatrice said. “They don't seem to have been in such desperation as long as the ones we see.”

Their words of wisdom to those hit by Harvey: Realize the recovery process will be long - perhaps many months or even years - but recovery is possible.

"Some of it is paperwork and relating to organizations that can help you,” Beatrice said. “Some of it is counseling, getting somebody to listen to your stories from your heart, what the pain is the loss. And then just moving through - moving through."

It’s something that can, unfortunately, mean starting over with nothing - hundreds of miles away.