Survivors' Stories: Living Through Katrina In the months since flooding and high winds devastated the Gulf Coast one year ago, stories of loss, sacrifice and survival have emerged that help Americans understand what happened -- and to whom. For residents who are still recovering from the ordeal, the stories can be haunting.
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Survivors' Stories: Living Through Katrina

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Survivors' Stories: Living Through Katrina

Survivors' Stories: Living Through Katrina

Survivors' Stories: Living Through Katrina

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Douglas P. deSilvey lost his wife, daughter and in-laws during Hurricane Katrina. StoryCorps hide caption

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David Duplantier and his wife, Melissa Eugene, say they'll live in New Orleans "until it completely falls apart, if that ever happens." StoryCorps hide caption

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Rufus Burkhalter and Bobby Brown

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Water-pump operators Bobby Brown and Rufus Burkhalter visited the StoryCorps booth in Jackson Square. StoryCorps hide caption

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Rufus Burkhalter, 61, and his friend and co-worker Bobby Brown, 58, are water-pump operators at Pumping Station No. 6 along the 17th Street Canal in New Orleans.

In the days after Katrina hit, Burkhalter and Brown risked their lives inside the station, continuing to work even after the levees broke. Pump Station 6, in Orleans Parish, is one of the world's largest pumping stations.

Brown's home in the Lower Ninth Ward was submerged and destroyed, and everything inside Burkhalter's home was severely damaged by the rising water.

The pair have worked together for more than 20 years.

Rachel Leifer and Joshua Norman

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Joshua Norman, 27, is a reporter for the South Mississippi Sun Herald. Rachel Leifer, 24, is a reporter for the Hattiesburg American, also in Mississippi. StoryCorps hide caption

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Three months into his new job at the South Mississippi Sun Herald in Gulfport, reporter Joshua Norman, helped cover Hurricane Katrina's aftermath on the Gulf Coast.

Norman loaded his car with valuables (photos from Africa, his guitar, passport, board games, beer and whiskey), and parked it in a garage before setting out to report on the storm around Long Beach, Miss., a town he regularly covers.

The newspaper's work led to a Pulitzer Prize for public service.

John Taylor

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John Taylor, 58, spoke to StoryCorps at the tugboat docks of the Lower Ninth Ward. StoryCorps hide caption

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John Taylor was born in New Orleans' Charity Hospital and raised in the Lower Ninth Ward. One of his sisters died at the hospital during Hurricane Katrina because of a power failure.

The storm also destroyed his childhood home, including the only things Taylor, a dockworker, says he really wanted from there: photos of himself when he was younger.

Roy and Tony Calabrisi

Roy and Tony Calabrisi

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Roy and Tony Calabrisi came to StoryCorps through Emergency Communities, a volunteer relief center in Saint Bernard Parish. They spoke inside Roy's trailer. StoryCorps hide caption

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When Katrina hit, Roy Calabrisi, 83, stayed in his home. But after he suffered a heart attack, he was taken by boat and then airlifted to a hospital for successful heart surgery.

His younger brother, Tony, 77, evacuated his home in St. Bernard Parish just before it was reported that the levees had broken. Roy's home flooded and then burned when a fire started next door.

Tony and Roy have an older brother, Sal. They also have two sisters. One, who is 82, moved to Alabama with another sister after Katrina totaled her home.

Roy vows never to leave, saying "When I go, I'll go out feet first."

Drs. Justin Lundgren and Kierstra Kurtz-Burke

Drs. Justin Lundgren and Kierstra Kurtz-Burke

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In their New Orleans home, Dr. Kiersta Kurtz-Burke and her husband, Dr. Justin Lundgren, discussed the days after Katrina hit. StoryCorps hide caption

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Dr. Kiersta Kurtz-Burke spent five days trapped inside storm-damaged Charity Hospital, caring for patients as they awaited rescue. Speaking in their New Orleans home, Kurtz-Burke tells her husband, Dr. Justin Lundgren, about conditions inside the hospital right after the power generators went out.

After a gas leak was discovered in the hospital, Kurtz-Burke wrote a letter to family and friends just in case anything happened. She had 16 patients on her floor of the hospital, along with numerous family members of patients and staff.

After the storm, Charity Hospital was shut down and all employees were laid off.

StoryCorps in New Orleans