SHERMAN OAKS ( — He lives in Sherman Oaks now, but Terry McGaha will always have a piece of New Orleans close to his heart.

“I guess I’ll always be an ambassador of New Orleans if nothing else,” McGaha said Friday, the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

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McGaha spent five decades in New Orleans before a week on a roof changed everything.

“We were never in danger of drowning, but we reached a point where, when the water came up, all of our vehicles went under, so then we were trapped even after the storm,” he said.

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He was trapped on the fourth floor flat-top roof of Holy Cross School, where he worked. The brick building is still in ruins today. He remembers using a bedsheet to signal for help and recalls when a boat finally came by.

McGaha was asked to visit the three Holy Cross schools on the West Coast and ended up at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks with nine students also displaced by the hurricane. The school system set him up with a house, and he stayed.

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“One of my friends from New Orleans said ‘When are you coming home?’ and I told him ‘I am home,’ ” McGaha said.