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Florida Opens Doors to Evacuees

By: Donna Davis
By: Donna Davis

More than 1,000 Katrina evacuees are now calling shelters here in Florida their home.

In a visit to one Tallahassee shelter, Gov. Jeb Bush offered encouragement and offered to help find jobs and to get kids in school, but many of the evacuees who are safe in Florida remain worried about loved ones in New Orleans.

Ashley Woods is a Florida State University student from New Orleans who fled Katrina before the storm hit, but Ashley’s mother stayed and now can’t get out. She called from the New Orleans Convention Center to plead for help.

Ashley says, “She said, I’m watching people die, there are babies going into frantic shock because they are dehydrated.”

Ashley has been so worried about her mother she hasn’t gone to school or work.

Ashley says, “I am by myself. I have no father. My mother is all I have.”

Others who have fled Katrina’s wrath are at an American Red Cross shelter in Tallahassee. Gov. Jeb Bush came to listen to their stories and offered help to find missing relatives.

One shelter is home to about 100 Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Many of them don’t have a place to return to and they don’t know how long they will be here.

Patti Gains says, “I’m afraid to leave because I feel that security, family, people are here and you have someone to lean on.”

There are about 1,000 Katrina evacuees in Florida now. During his visit, Gov. Jeb Bush offered these people something they haven’t had much of up until now: hope.

Meanwhile, Ashley is losing faith in the government and hoping her mother will survive.


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