Saturday, September 03, 2005

Katrina Survivors Glimpse the Places They Called Home

Thursday, September 01, 2005 — Ocean Springs, Miss. – On the morning after Hurricane Katrina slammed into this historic Gulf Coast town, along with American Red Cross workers, some residents returned to survey the places they used to call home.
“At least we have each other”
The Long family – Connie, James and their daughter Vicki – diligently heeded the evacuation warnings, packed up some belongings and headed off to a safe place to ride out the storm. Before evacuating they secured their beloved family cats, Max and Fluff, in a safe place in their apartment and left.
After the storm, they returned to find that their apartment building had collapsed destroying all of their possessions. James and Vicki desperately called out for their cats, but there was no response.
In the background the sounds of chainsaws covered up the sound of their crying as others were beginning the long hard process of recovering from the devastation and loss brought by Katrina.
“At least we have each other,” said Connie Long over and over again as she held tightly to her husband and daughter.
“That pile of rubble was my house”
Just hours after the Category 4 hurricane brought unprecedented destruction to the residents of this seaside town, Holly Graham looked down her street.
(Photo Credit: Gene Dailey/American Red Cross)">Looking past the boat in front of her neighbor's home, Holly Graham choked out the single sentence that sums up the devastation for many: "That pile of rubble was my house." Ocean Springs, Miss., August 2005. (Photo Credit: Gene Dailey/American Red Cross)
“That pile of rubble was my house,” said Graham.
Graham and her family had planned on staying in their home as the storm approached. The house was more than 20 feet above sea level and no storm in the past had ever brought water that high. But Katrina was not just any storm.
As the storm surged and pounding waves rose and lapped at her porch, she and her husband decided it was time to round up their dogs, cat, and bird to retreat to a safe shelter.
When they returned, they were greeted by little resembling their former home. Two of their cars had washed over the remains of their house and landed in the back yard. The other two were stranded below in a gully just near the beach.
Graham immediately began sorting through the debris and was able to find both her wedding photos and the wedding photos of her parents.
“I know it will take a long time for us to get over this storm,” she said. “I am so thankful that the American Red Cross can be counted on to be here to help.”
These are just two of the thousands of families whose lives have been turned upside-down by Katrina – families looking to the Red Cross for help. The first priority is to meet the urgent, critical needs of hurricane survivors, including emergency shelter, food and water, but it’s not just the physical necessities that need tending. That’s why Red Cross workers will be there in the communities and with the families providing emotional and moral support as well as the survivors begin the long recovery process.
Bob Mullins is a Disaster Services Human Resources volunteer with the Dayton Area Chapter and is employed as the Public Affairs Director for the Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board for Montgomery County Ohio.
All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of this disaster and thousands of other disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need. Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting


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