#Katrina10: How Trust Faith & Grace Got Us Out of New Orleans in The Knick of Time

Blessings y’all! It’s Friday, August 28th 2015 and I’ve been thinking a lot about my Katrina story from 10 years ago.

Rewind 22 years ago. I was a misift, rebel who ended up in a heap of trouble when I was 16. As a result I was sent to live in a rural town outside of Lafayette Louisiana for ten months. Desipte, living in Louisiana for just about a year, I never had a chance to visit or spend any time in New Orleans.

It was eleven years later, and I was hired as the tour manager for a Reggae group called the “Easy Star All-Stars.” One of our stops was New Orleans!! We were playing the House of Blues on a Friday night, but not just any Friday night. It was the Friday of the weekend that Katrina was barreling towards the gulf coast, and by the time I arrived in New Orleans I had no idea what we were in for.


Our show that night at the House of Blues was amazing, and I remember being so excited that we had the weekend off in NOLA!! I would finally get a chance to experience this mystical, wild, magical city. Then the calls started coming in….

A man I was seeing at the time called me late that night. He basically said, “Look, I don’t want to scare you, but there is a huge hurricane headed straight for New Orleans and you have got to get out of there ASAP!!!”


Half of the band was flying back to New York City and 4 of us decided to stay in NOLA for the weekend to chill before our next gig. I was responsible for getting two of the band members and myself from New Orleans to Las Vegas on Monday for our next show. This was before everyone had cell phones, and as these Rasta bredren departed into the city on Saturday morning I asked them to keep in touch because we’d most likely be leaving before Monday to avoid the storm.

My intuition and inner guidance was unsettled. There was this eerie feeling in the air, a sense of impending doom and all I could think about was finding a way to get myself and my people out of harms way.

You know what I’m talking about… when that quiet, still, little big voice inside you is trying to tell you something?! Well…. mine was telling me I needed to figure out how to leave before Monday, but there was one problem. So many other travelers’ little big inner voice was telling them the same thing! All of the flights were booked solid out of New Orleans on Saturday and Sunday, but because I had lived in Louisana, I knew there was a major airport in Baton Rouge.

Throughout the day anxiety and fear were growing within me. I was on the phone with the label, my family, a few friends, the airline, hotel in Vegas and car rental places while watching the news all day and this humongous storm heading straight for us. I am so thankful the label, Easy Star Records, rallied and helped me come up with an exit strategy.

BOOM… I got the last three seats on a flight leaving out of Baton Rouge at 7am on Sunday morning. The only thing was… that I need to trust that my band mates would get back to the hotel in time for us to make it to Baton Rouge and get on that flight. With my bredren not having cell phones, I had to put all of my faith in the powers that be to guide them to me.

I remember the vibe and environment like it was yesterday. It was so surreal and slightly bizarre because everyone in the hotel and in the French Quarter seemed to be going about business as usual. By Saturday evening, I was just praying that my two band mates would show up so that we could make our way out of New Orleans and onto to Baton Rouge.


People were dressing for dinner; they were going out on the town. I remember thinking to myself: “Aren’t these people scared about this hurricane coming?” I guess coming from the north, I’m not used to tropical storms. Snow storms I can deal with no problem.. but high winds, rain, tornadoes, flooding, severe lightening freak me out!

By the grace of creation, my guys showed up around 10:00 pm. We got all of their things together and hopped in a cab towards the rental car spot. At this point so many people were evacuating that the traffic on Highway 10 out of New Orleans was chock a block with major delays. We took the back roads to get our rental, so we could drive ourselves Baton Rouge.

When we arrived at Hertz the line-up to rent a car was staggering. It was going to be a 4 or 5 hours wait. With a 7am flight out of Baton Rouge, which was still a good hour away, it was going to be tight.

After waiting for 1 hour I happened to see one of those buses that pick you up at the airport and drop you off at all the different rental car spots. Struck by inspiration, I told the guys I was going to try and see if there were cars at any of the other rental places. I hopped on the shuttle, and they took me to Enterprise. There was no line, and when I got to the counter they told me that I got the last car on the lot!


So within forty-five minutes I had a car for us. I still remember the look on my bredren’s faces as I picked them up. The line they were in had not moved. It was after midnight, and we busted a move to our motel in Baton Rouge.

We arrived at the airport with more than enough time to make our flight, however the security line was extremely long with all of the travelers making their escape. Then, as we finally went through security with literally minutes to board our flight, my Jamaican band mate was flagged for further searching.

I hauled ass running towards our gate and begged them to keep the door. They were just starting to close it but agreed to hold the flight for a few minutes.

Luckily both of my guys got through security and we made it, by the skin of our teeth. Had we been even 5 minutes later, we would have missed the flight.

I cannot even the describe the mixture of emotions that I felt as I felt myself sitting in my seat, watching us pull away from the gate. I remember thinking of all the people on the ground, all of the people who couldn’t get out, and those who chose to stay. When took off, and got into the air I felt both this tremendous sense of deep relief and gratitude, mixed with grief and anxiety.

We made it..

I remember getting to Las Vegas and as soon as we got to the hotel, I laid down in bed watching reports of the storm as it as it began to encroach on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. I watched as the stories came in that covered the destruction, fatalities and the chaos that ensued. And my heart ached for all those who were missing, dead and displaced as a result of this storm and the busted levies. This experience had an impact on me I will never forget.

As I laid there I cried. I gave thanks to all that is that assisted us in getting out of New Orleans, while my heart ached for the people who whose lives were forever changed. One of my bandmates lost his brother; he was never found.

It took days and weeks for the devastation to be realized. How so many lives were torn apart. I look back now, ten years later and I just give thanks and praises that we were able to escape. We were truly blessed.

Today, I’m sending sooo much love and sooo many prayers to everyone that was affected by Katrina. To everyone who suffered loss, to everyone uprooted from their homes, and to everyone who is taking a stand for New Orleans and rebuilding this incredible city.

I also want to share a link to a documentary my dear friend Rennik Soholt is finishing up about Katrina. It’s called Forced Change and you can check it out by clicking HERE.

Count your blessings, hold your loved ones close, trust and listen to your intuition and keep shining your beautiful love light!

Long Live New Orleans!!!

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Little $ BIG Impact – The Power of Community

You may not know this about me, but I’ve long had a dream of being a philanthropist. I used think that I’d need millions of dollars to make an impact, thankful now I know differently. Over the last several years I’ve supported projects with as little as $1, and guess what…. those $1, $5, $25 donations made an impact and helped projects get funded. I am continuously awed and blessed by the power of our community! We are greater together, and the impact we make can move mountains…AND EXPAND SCHOOLS!! As many of you know, I’ve been passionate about Africa, African culture and playing a role in increasing the peace and goodness on the continent of Africa. I started traveling to Africa 5 years ago and have been aching to pay it forward to organizations and projects that are making a direct impact on the lives of Africans in the Motherland. So I’ve been invited to join 29 other change-makers, entrepreneurs and colleagues in the Misfit Inc. community to raise $500 each between now and the end of August to improve a school for children in Uganda! The “Send Me to School” program doesn’t just build buildings (although with 190 … Continue reading

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An awesome review of my CD release party from graphic artist Afura Fareed

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My CD release party ~ Rave reviews! ;)

Well it’s been over a month since my CD Release party and my heart and mind are still buzzing with excitement, energy, and possibilities from this magical event!! This was one of the most amazing highly blessed nights of my LIFE!! GIVE THANKS to my Buffalo community for bringin’ it and showing up for the celebration. It was frickin’ amazing to say the least!!! Wow!!!!!! I’m so honored and humbled to have co-created and shared this night with some of the most incredibly talented people I know in Western New York. Some of my supporters have provided their reflections on this event, and I’m thrilled to share these perspectives with you. Even if you weren’t there, you can get a glimpse of the energy and all the possibilities yet to come in my flourishing creative journey!! Read on… ‘Buffalo native, world traveler, twin and skyrocket Laura Haykel blasted off with her debut ‘I Am’ at her recent CD Release Party! Laura’s spiritually-minded music bears witness to her personal growth and invites fellow travelers to tread along on the path of self-evocation, exploration, and expression. The songs performed from the stage matched the songs on her debut CD.  Both start with … Continue reading

From Woe is Me to Empowered & Free!

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What the critics are saying about ‘I AM’

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My CD ‘I AM’ has been released and is ready for purchase!

I am soooo freakin’ excited to announce my CD ‘I AM’ is now available in both digital and hard copy form!!! This is totally a dream come true for me, and to receive the physical CD’s was just unbelievably exciting!!! CLICK HERE to purchase the digital download for just $7 and get the music instantly for your personal playlist. Do you want the hard copy CD? Email booking@LAHMusique.com to make your order. You must order a minimum of 5 to purchase the physical CDs. The hard copies are just $10!! Mmmmmm just thrilled to share this with you!!!!!! Want to hear what the critics are saying? Jeff Miers from The Buffalo News featured me in the Gusto this past week! Click here to read the article. Have you heard the music? How has it moved you? Share in the comments section below! Much love and HIGHLY Bless! Your sistar … Continue reading