CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - After the buzz of the tattoo gun fades a picture takes shape. The ink is permanent, the design a special meaning to it's owner. However, tattoos can be removed, it's memories that last a lifetime.
"Just imagine eight hours of fear," said co-owner of Blu Gorilla Tattoo Tim Dennis.
Seven years ago, Dennis was in the cross hairs of Hurricane Katrina.
"We just figured it wasn't going to hit," said the tattoo artist.
Dennis was born and raised in New Orleans. Before the hurricane hit in 2005, he was working in a tattoo parlor half the year and spent the other half air brushing.
As Katrina winds and rains started to bear down, Dennis took it as his cue to leave the city.
"I didn't leave until the day before the storm came," said Dennis. "I looked on television and the storm was the size of the whole Gulf of Mexico."
The evacuation took Dennis 14 hours to travel what was normally a 45 minute drive to Mississippi. Accompanied by his wife, a backpack and his dog, the tattoo artist planned on returning to New Orleans in a few weeks.
"I was just planning on going up there and coming back and cleaning up," said Dennis.
But when he got back to his hometown, everything was gone.
"The only thing I can compare it to is footage of World War 2 when you see the footage of all those destroyed neighborhoods," said Dennis. "That's how New Orleans looked. I walked around for two days and cried."
After living briefly in Minnesota with family, Dennis and his wife decided to move to Charleston to start over and haven't looked back.
"Things are better now than they've ever been in my life," said Dennis. "They were horrible seven years ago and I persevered and had faith and now they're better than I ever would have imagined. Sometimes good things happen from bad situations you know."
Dennis says the majority of his family has since left New Orleans. Right now, he's watching Isaac and hopes everyone back home stays safe and is aware of what they're up against.