By C. Todd Sherman/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – On Aug. 29, 2005, Troy and Laura Fink and their three children spent the night in a Tupelo motel room waiting out Hurricane Katrina.
Seven years later, to the day, they did the same thing for a storm named Isaac. The family, plus friends and pets, gathered in one of their four rooms at America’s Best Inn on Wednesday morning.
As of Wednesday, other motels in the Tupelo area reported a marginal number of hurricane evacuees, unlike Katrina when many motels were full with rooms booked for weeks and even months.
“I stayed up all night watching,” weather updates, Troy Fink said.
This time, thankfully, the news was good. Isaac stalled and dropped tons of rain, but the strengthened levees that had failed during Katrina kept their St. Bernard Parish, La., home safe this time. Thus far their home has sustained roof and water damage
“I’m in touch with a neighbor who’s keeping an eye on things,” Troy Fink said.
When the Finks had fled Katrina, they left behind a one-story home in Chalmette, La. The hurricane ravaged the town and flooded the Finks’ house and a rental property they owned. They couldn’t go home.
So they rented a duplex in Tupelo, found jobs, enrolled their youngest daughter in school, and stayed nine months.
During that time, the Finks fell in love with Tupelo. It’s a feeling that has endured long after their return to Louisiana. Tupelo now is among their favorite vacation spots and their go-to place when seeking refuge from the storms. They also came in 2008 during Hurricane Gustav.
The family made their rounds around town after arriving Monday to say hello to former neighbors and old friends.
Troy Fink said they’re not expecting devastation from Isaac, but they lost power and plan to return when it’s restored.
They had returned too early after Gustav: “We were without power for a week. It was hot and miserable” Laura Fink said.
Until then, the Finks are enjoying Tupelo’s amenities – shopping, dining and visiting some of sites constructed since their last visit, like the Elvis statue at Fairpark and the new dog park.
“We feel like Tupelo is a part of who we are,” Troy Fink said. “The people are really nice.”