Family starts from scratch

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2005

Some would say it is odd to see a home that is inhabited, yet bare.

Many of the apartments that are being used by displaced Gulf Coast residents transplanted to Ironton by the CAO are just that way: Filled with people, yet otherwise empty.

Kathy Prince is living in one such temporary home. Although she is admittedly beginning to fill her apartment, Kathy and her 15-year-old daughter Ketorra haul in sacks of groceries that may have literally cost them an arm and a leg in their flooded home city.

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The long-time Mississippi residents had only lived in New Orleans for eight months before their home was consumed in the flooding following Hurricane Katrina.

They first sought refuge in the New Orleans Convention Center, but soon found it to be too hectic for her and her daughter. When the chance came to escape the trying conditions, she leapt at it.

"The center was chaotic, and we weren't able to get back to our house, and they said they had a place for us to stay. They said they would put us up," Kathy said. "The schools were pretty good so I just said 'What the heck, let's go.'"

Since escaping Louisiana, the Princes have had the unique, terrifying experience of watching their home being swallowed up from a distance.

"At first we weren't watching," Kathy said. "But since I've been here I've been watching it on TV. You don't even recognize some of the places."

There has been some comfort: the Ohioans who have taken her and her daughter in have continually helped keep up the spirits of her and her family.

"Since we got here, everybody has been so nice, from the time we got here to now," Kathy said.

She's not exaggerating. In the span of 20 minutes, Kathy has no less than three visitors just checking up on her. It's welcome attention, but still doesn't replace the home she has lost.

"We'll miss it. We'll miss the different kinds of cooking, Cajun cooking and stuff like that," Kathy said. "But we're safe, we're stable, we've got a roof over our heads."

Although she may be alright for the moment, Kathy has already started worrying about the future. She has no method of transportation, a major concern when it comes time to find work.

It's a big change for someone coming from a city with a robust public transportation system, but not as big as a concern as Ketorra's future.

"My daughter just got into school. She's been in school a week," Kathy said. "And she's got to now adjust to a whole new environment."

Ketorra, however, said she was excited about the moveŠand meeting a new group of people. Meanwhile, Kathy will have to continue to get their lives back on track Š and to make her barren apartment into something more like home.

"We're planning on staying a year Š then if we like everything, if we adjust and everything, this will be our home," Kathy said.