For Jim Haslett, Thoughts Of Hurricane Katrina Still Bring Emotions
ASHBURN – For Jim Haslett, the emotions are still raw.
The Washington Redskins’ defensive coordinator was the head coach in New Orleans in 2005, the year the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
When Hurricane Isaac struck last week, Haslett couldn’t help but think back to what he experienced.
“I felt bad for the people down there – the people really down south in the lower-lying areas,” Haslett said. “I felt bad for those people, because it was déjà vu seven years later.”
Destruction was comparatively limited last week, though many households in and around the city still remain without power. The storm surge following Hurricane Katrina caused levees protecting the city from the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River to fail, leading to massive flooding and several hundred related deaths.
The city used the Superdome as an emergency shelter for hundreds of displaced residents, though the building was still damaged.
That forced the Saints to play their home games away from the city, including some in San Antonio, some in Baton Rouge and even one in New Jersey as the New York Giants were on the schedule.
New Orleans went 3-13 that season, and Haslett was fired when it ended.
Colloquial and easygoing when speaking reporters for 10 minutes Thursday, Haslett hesitated with his answers and fidgeted with papers when speaking about that season.
“Nobody really knows what that team went through that year,” Haslett said. “I felt bad for those people down there, but that was something that wasn’t easy for that organization. They did a nice job coming out of it.”
The Saints won the NFC South a year later to clinch their first playoff berth in six years. They would later win the Super Bowl after the 2009 season.
“I’m glad for those guys,” Haslett said. “I’m glad for [team owner] Mr. [Tom] Benson, Mickey [Loomis, the general manager], all the guys who were down there. Devery [Henderson, a receiver], who we drafted, and [receiver] Lance Moore and [defensive end] Will Smith – I was glad for all those guys because they were part of it.”