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Residents reflect on Katrina#039;s impact

Lawrence County is a long way from New Orleans or Biloxi, Miss., but prayers and thoughts are bridging those miles.

People throughout the area say they are thinking of those who have been in harm's way and are now suffering through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Some local residents are also thinking about how the problems there will affect the rest of the nation.

"I've been watching TV a lot," William Brown, of Haverhill said. He and his wife, Teresa, said they have no family or friends in the hurricane-stricken areas, but they are sad and concerned nonetheless.

"I don't think aid is getting to them quickly enough," Teresa Brown said. "I think that's what gotten a lot of people upset, that help didn't get through quicker."

William Brown donated to the hurricane relief effort at work, Service Office Supply in Flatwoods, Ky. The donations are going to the American Red Cross.

The scenes of domestic devastation, looting, violence and hunger seem strange sights for many Americans.

"I thought it could possibly happen," William Brown said. "They kept talking like it could. They keep talking about hurricanes getting worse and worse every year."

Gloria Matney of South Point keeps track of news coverage, too.

"I feel sorry for them, I really do," she said. "I think it's just so sad."

Jason Maddy, Jordan Eicher and Jamie Blevins, all of Ironton, said they watch the coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath when they're not at work. When they are at work, the trio says the situation down south is often the conversation topic of choice lately.

"Everybody is shocked," Blevins said. "They can't believe it's as bad as it is."

"I'm glad I'm not from there," Maddy said. "The looting, the stealing."

Those scenes of crime and violence bother Blevins, too.

"People stealing, women being raped, gosh. I figured there'd be violence, though. People are panicking."

Neither Blevins nor Maddy thought the aftermath would reach such depths of despair.

Eicher said the news this year has been peppered with horror stories of Mother Nature on a rampage and he is wondering if the news will go from bad to worse as the year draws to a close.

"(We had) a tsunami and thousands of people got killed. Had another hurricane (in the U.S.) and I thought that would be the big one, and now this one," he said. "I can't wait until winter."

In addition to concern for the victims, some residents worry about the effect Hurricane Katrina will have on their lives: Will gas prices increase?

"It took $553 to fill my tank up," he said.

"That's why we're all on motorcycles," Blevins joked.

As they watched a man pedal past them through Ironton on a bicycle, Eicher joked.

"Hey, he's got the right idea. Get the Schwinn out."

Numerous businesses in Ironton have changed their storefront signs to reflect the times and encourage local residents to put their money where their thoughts are.

Instead of advertising sales, the signs exhort people to give to hurricane relief, a sentiment that the Rev. Steve Judson, of Coal Grove agrees with. Judson said he plans to announce during services at his church today how members of his congregation can donate to the hurricane relief effort, a call no doubt that will resonate in many churches.

"I think we can show God's love and our support by pitching in," he said. "As Christians we have a responsibility to show God's love and this is one way we can do it."