One of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, Hurricane Katrina, led to a complete change of landscape both physically and culturally in the Gulf Coast. Whole families were torn apart by storm and left to put their lives back together. One family that was separated was David DuPlantier, and his wife, Melissa Eugene. The two parted ways not knowing what the future may hold.
Hurricane Katrina hit the city of New Orleans in late August 2005. With late issued mandatory evacuation orders, many were left in the city, stranded during the storm. The local professional football stadium, the Superdome, was turned into a “refuge” for those that could not make it out of the city. It was estimated estimated 25,000-30,000 people sought refuge there.
At the time Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, David DuPlantier had been on the New Orleans Police force for many years. Therefore, he did not question staying back in the city to help its citizens in any way he could. He was married to Melissa Eugene. Although they wanted to stay together, they knew they had to part ways before the storm. Melissa left the city, while David stayed. He was stationed at the Superdome.
David knew he would encounter some terrible things those next few days. He recounted his time in the Superdome to NPR. “As the night progressed, we started seeing a hole starting to form in the roof of the dome.” David said. “And then this roof literally looked like an eggshell; it started to peel. And at that point was when everybody knew, okay, it’s here. It’s hitting us now.”
You Can Go Find Your Loved Ones
The Sunday morning, after the major part of the storm had passed, everyone in the Superdome, including David was told they could leave. David felt a sense of relief overcome him. He would finally be able to reconnect with his wife, from whom he had been separated from during the entire storm. Did she make it out of the city? Is she alive? Does she think I’m dead? All of these questions were running through his mind.
The day they were reunited Melissa told NPR it was “the happiest day of my life.” David agreed, he said “All I wanted to do was let you know I wasn’t dead, I was alive.” He went on to retell their reunion, he said he was “drunk on her smell.” They had both safely survived the storm. Unlike many families who were torn apart by the storm, the couple still lives New Orleans.