Hurricane Katrina evacuees find comfort

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 1, 2005

REGION-While Hurricane Katrina took its toll on the Black Belt there were several areas that faired much worse. Areas such as South Mississippi and Louisiana were hammered by the storm and now their citizens are unsure when they will be able to return.

Several families made their way into West Alabama including Louisiana native Tony Beaubauef, his wife Sandy and their children Chelsea, Ashley and Alex. The Beaubauef family has been staying with friends Tommy and Michelle Graham in Demopolis.

“Tommy and Michelle really went out of their way to put us up here,” Tony said. “We are really, really thankful for those guys.”

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Beaubauef said he was not sure when they would be able to return to Louisiana.

“We are probably going to be displaced for month’s,” Tony said. “A couple of Michelle’s sister in laws and some others came over yesterday and brought some clothes and toys and stuff.”

He said his family had been on a leisurely trip when they were informed of a mandatory evacuation.

“We were in Biloxi and we had to leave,” Tony said. “We didn’t even get a chance to go back to New Orleans. We had to evacuate from there.”

The Beaubuef’s are residents of St. Bernard Parrish, most of which is currently under water. Tony said he appreciated all people have done to make them feel welcome while they are in town.

Several other residents have taken refuge at the Student Union Building on the campus of the University of West Alabama. At last count about 120 had made their way to town.

Mazeena Sherman, of Tyler, Texas, said her family ran into hard times on their trip to avoid the storm.

“This was actually as far as we got,” Sherman said. “We were driving along and we broke down. Then the storm came and we had to find shelter.”

Sherman said Katrina has created a domino effect of hard luck for her family.

“It has been one big mess,” Sherman said. “If we were able to get back to Texas we would have to go all the way up to Arkansas. It has been one big chaotic mess.”

Monoie Gordon, from New Orleans, said they do not expect to find much when they go home.

“We have lost everything,” Gordon said. “The only things we have are the things we brought with us.”

She said one minute they were safe in their home and the next they were fleeing a catastrophic storm.

“It is just amazing,” Gordon said. “You go from having everything right there to having nothing.”

Kimberly Badden, who is also from New Orleans, said they beat the storm by two days, but lost the rest of their party in the process.

“We left Saturday morning and got separated from the rest of our party,” Badden said. “We just hope to get in touch with them and let them know we are okay.”

Badden said they stopped in Livingston and thanked God they found the shelter.

“We went from the Comfort Inn to the Livingston Inn to here,” Badden said. “It started getting expensive to stay there and we didn’t know what to do. We just thank the Lord we found this place and these people.”