Katrina evacuee family works to start over in Augusta

By: Domonique Benn
By: Domonique Benn

August 29, 2006

One year after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans, the situation for many evacuees still looks bleak.

Despite a new home in a new town, one family says the struggle to survive is ongoing.

Katrina, the nation's worst natural disaster, killed almost 2000 people and caused more than $100 billion in damages.

After Hurricane Katrina, thousands of evacuees ended up in Augusta, and many decided to make the city their home.

News 12's Domonique Benn talked to a Katrina survivor and has her story, one year later.

Denise James says it still hurts, losing everything in minutes as Hurricane Katrina roared through her home a year ago.

Even a year later, she says her family still isn't stable.

It's been a year since Hurricane Katrina stole everything from Denise James and her family.

"People may look at me or look at my husband and the way we carry ourselves, you may not think we went through nothing, or you may think that nothing's on our minds," she says. "But every day we go to bed with that on our minds."

It's an anniversary they would rather forget.

"It was the same thing, the same smell. It brought me back to the days where we slept on top of tables because the water was up underneath us."

They lived the nightmare: days of living in a water-ravaged home.

Denise and her family finally had somewhere to go, but the eight-hour trip to Augusta turned into 24...and the youngest of six kids was only a week old.

"The day we came up here is the day I ran out of milk for my baby."

Sis. Mary King Cannon of Radio One's WTHB was a saving grace. She made the arrangements to bring hundreds to Augusta. She even helped Denise find a job at the company.

But Denise says starting over hasn't been easy.

"Some things don't get paid, and some things the kids don't get."

Dr. Robetta McKenzie of the Hurricane Katrina Task Force says while there are limited funds, there is still help. She says the task force is still looking for families in need.

"There are people in this community still struggling, and they need a hand, and we've got to figure out how to do it," she says.

"When we first arrived, people was helping, wanting to do this and that, but reality sets in and they fade away," says Denise.

Thousands of evacuees like Denise James have decided not to return to New Orleans.

Denise says she will only return when the city returns to some normalcy.

Although they may not be front and center like they were when Katrina first happened, agencies are still helping. In fact, the Hurricane Katrina Task Force is still trying to identify those who are still here and still may need assistance.

If you need help, you can call them at 706-721-1040.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 newsroom@wrdw.com Fax: (803) 442-4561
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