Refugees making future plans

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Many evacuees who lost everything to Hurricane Katrina arepondering their uncertain futures and where to pick up and startover.

New Orleans resident Patrice Milton, who lived below theIndustrial Canal levee that broke during last Monday’s storm, saidshe has nothing but the clothes on her back.

“I’ve lost everything,” Milton said Friday afternoon whilestaying in the Red Cross shelter at Easthaven Baptist Church. “Myhome is under approximately 18 feet of water the last time Isaw.”

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Despite her plight, Milton focused her concern on her sisterLatasha Coleman and her three children. Milton said the last timetalked to her sister was around 3 p.m. last Sunday, the day beforeKatrina made landfall.

“She said they were going to get in the tub and pray,” Miltonsaid.

Milton said her sister’s home in LaPlace, La., survived thestorm. She was hoping family members in Texas had heard from hersister.

“I can’t restart my life again until I know if they’re dead oralive,” Milton said.

Elsewhere at Easthaven, David Baradell watched news reports ashis wife, Joan, played dominoes nearby. He was eager to reunitewith family members elsewhere and get a job.

“We’ve got to get to work,” said Baradell, a stone mason andtile installer. “We can’t stay around here two weeks, four week orhow long it might be.”

The Baradells were grateful for assistance provided at theshelter.

“They are the sweetest people we’ve met,” Joan said.

At First Baptist Church, New Orleans resident Ashanta Butler anddaughter Eviyn, 2, were staying at a church staff member’s home.She did not know about her long-term plans.

“We’re going to have to find somewhere,” said Butler, addingthat her Louisiana home had about two feet of water the last timeshe saw it.

Other evacuees have more than just family members to think aboutwhen making decisions about staring over.

Krishelle Harrison operated a home for senior citizens in NewOrleans. Two residents came with her and other family members whenthey evacuated last Sunday.

“Where I go, they go unless they choose otherwise,” Harrisonsaid.

Harrison said she had to beg 92-year-old Peter L. Mitchell tocome with her. Mitchell, who survived Hurricane Betsy, sat outsideSt. James Missionary Baptist Church with fellow Harrison Homeresident Billy J. Thompson, 67.

“The Lord will take care of you some way, somehow,” Mitchellsaid.

Like other evacuees, Harrison was grateful to have found shelterat the church.

“It’s been a blessing being here,” Harrison said. “We had hotmeals even when the lights were off.”

Harrison was hopeful the care home was not destroyed by thestorm.

“If it is, we’re going to have to rebuild and start over,”Harrison said.

Harrison said she considered starting over in Brookhaven becauseof the reception they have received.

“It’s like a family,” she said of church members. “They’re soloving.”

Other evacuees may have similar thoughts. Richard Furr, citypresident at State Bank and Trust Co., said he had seen an increasein new accounts opened at the bank.

“We’ve had seven or eight open accounts as if they live here,”Furr said of storm evacuees. “Several of them have said they aregoing to move here.”

Citing evacuees’ comments, Furr said they have been impressedwith the friendly atmosphere and the hospitality they’ve receivedwhile staying in Brookhaven.

“That speaks well for the community,” Furr said.