‘Get out. Head north.’ (Part 1)

When Hurricane Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29, 2005, it signaled the start of a catastrophe that would leave a permanent mark on the Gulf Coast and its residents. The storm battered the coast with high winds and a powerful storm surge. It reshaped the region’s geography and drove people from their homes.

Then the levees broke, and a natural disaster turned into a man-made tragedy. Feet of water flooded the streets. Those who fled found themselves stranded in a foreign city. Some who remained met a worse fate. Everybody who emerged from Katrina’s aftermath carried with them a unique story.

SNL traveled to southern Louisiana in mid-August to hear some of those stories. They are a small sample of what it was like to live through one of the greatest disasters in U.S. history.

In part one, residents discussed Louisiana’s long history with hurricanes and the days leading up to Katrina. Part two will be published Aug. 31 and will focus on the storm’s aftermath and the recovery effort. The following is an edited transcript of those conversations.

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