GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — As the American Red Cross of Georgia made its way to Louisiana to help with relief efforts, many Hurricane Ida evacuees were fleeing to Metro Atlanta.

Deborah Liuzza and her family didn’t hesitate to leave New Orleans when they heard Ida was headed their direction. ”Just get on the road and go, and wherever it takes you you’re better off than being in the storm,” she said. Relatives living in Suwanee welcomed them with open arms. “We try to help whenever we can with whatever we can. It’s heartwarming to be able to do that,” said Kecia Picard, a family member. “It’s really sad that it happened on the anniversary of Katrina,” she said. “It was flashbacks all over again,” Liuzza said. “We were all devastated. My family lost a lot of property,” she added.

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They were among the more as more than one million people who fled during Hurricane Katrina, while thousands stayed behind despite warnings or were unable to leave. More than 1,800 people died during that storm, Luizza’s daughter Laurin Toski says city officials failed to properly handle evacuation efforts both during Katrina and Ida, where the storm has left yet another trail of devastation, except this time, during a pandemic. “In terms of not ordering a mandatory evacuation of people inside the levy system, I don’t agree with that. They’re claiming there was not enough time,” Toski said.

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As they drove here to Georgia, a local Red Cross team was headed to Louisiana. “The American Red Cross of Georgia sent over 20 volunteers to the area to help with relief efforts. Primarily, we are helping right now with sheltering and feeding,” said Ruby Ramirez, a spokesperson with the American Red Cross of Georgia. Officials say this will be a long term recovery effort. “The Red Cross saw about 2,500 people come to our shelters in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi,” Ramirez said, regarding those seeking assistance so far due to Ida.

Liuzza and her family are counting their blessings, and their their thoughts are on those who didn’t make it out. “I wish I could have taken them with me, I mean, I feel for them, knowing what we went through with Katrina,” she said.

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The Georgia Red Cross team is expected to help in Louisiana for several weeks. They plan to increase the number of volunteers to help with overall disaster relief efforts.