What Katrina at Age 27 Taught Me About Coronavirus at Age 42

I never thought I would be grateful for Hurricane Katrina. Certainly, I learned much about humanity, family, and resiliency. And for those lessons and experiences, I am grateful. I would not have met my now ex-husband, if not for Katrina. And I am grateful for him and our children. This gratitude I am feeling today feels different, but this whole COVID-19 scenario feels … familiar. And I am not afraid.

It was not until my Mother and I were talking on the phone as the cases of Coronavirus in New Orleans were stacking up by the hour March 11th did I say, “This feels like the Saturday before Katrina.”

I was 27 years old and had no idea what I was about to experience. From the death of my grandfather at Baptist Hospital 12 hours before storm landfall, to being the unintended caregiver for two stowaway non-English speaking international students, and witnessing hand-to-hand ilfe saving measures as I waited 4 days for my turn to be rescued from the rooftop of Tulane Hospital’s parking garage, it was unimaginable.

I emerged a different person as I was airlifted over the city in the military helicopter, resilient and stronger than I ever imagined. And now that strength is being put to the test. 

Here’s what I know.

There is nothing we cannot overcome. Period. The fact that I am sitting here today is a testament.

Be ready for the unexpected. I am talking down the rabbit hole “this can’t be happening.” Expect it. When something crazy happens, be ready, “Oh yea, this is one of those topsy-turvy things that would happen.”

Uncertainty will be a way of life for now. We are in unprecedented times. Unreal. And yes, they can be frightening. Not knowing what is next is the one thing you can count on.

Don’t hyper-speculate. Be ready for the “new normal” (y’all remember that verbiage), don’t obsess over the “what next?!”

Control what you can. While it feels it is happening TO you, there are so many actions and directions you can control. Take note when you are taking control, “I am choosing to make this dinner. I am going to ignore this panic-inducing text message.”

This will be over eventually. This is not forever. All the disruption. The uncertainty. It is not forever.

I don’t love what is happening in New Orleans, in our country, and across our entire world. There is nothing I cannot overcome. There is nothing you cannot overcome. We did it before, we’re going to do it again.

Julie Couret
Nola Native, Julie Couret is Mom of Emma Mae (12) & Helen (10) and partner to her long term boyfriend Tom. She co-parents with her ex-husband & is known for candid posts on her life behind the scenes. Julie is self-employed an Executive Coach who works with business owners leading strategic planning sessions, management training, leadership development, and change management. She loves road trips with her kids, playing tourist in her own city, and riding in her parade Krewe Cleopatra!


  1. Katrina taught me so much. I always say it was a defining moment in my life. I don’t live in New Orleans currently and when I mention to people I was living in New Orleans at the time they want to hear the story. It has helped me put my entire life into perspective. What is happening now will pass, we are resilient and strong.

  2. Amen. Live in Mobile. Oldest daughter (a Loyola student) evacuated from NO to Mobile with her international roommate in advance of Katrina. Blew a rod at Mile marker 54 in Mississippi on the way. My awesome neighborhood service station sent a tow truck for the car and I went for the girls. Scary but strength building week for all of us. Took our family Christmas card picture with the damage afterward. It didn’t end with that, but each step made us stronger. Talking to my 4 kids getting ready for this new thing (all over the US now), they know the drill and that they can get through this too.


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