September 8, 2005

Effects of Hurricane Katrina Being Felt Locally

Hurricane Katrina struck the United States on August 29th nearly 900 miles from this rural northeast Missouri community, but the catastrophe has touched the region despite the distance.

New Orleans took the brunt of the storm as levee breaks flooded most of the city turning the lives of its 1.3 million residents upside down.

Chris Nelson was among the thousands of people that can no longer call the Crescent City home after his house was destroyed by the storm.

The former Memphis resident is back home after his mother and stepfather sent him a plane ticket and drove to Kansas City to bring him back.

While he was some 60 miles from New Orleans, Jay Rush and his wife Julia are witnessing the results first hand at their home in Baton Rouge.

Rush stated his city normally is home to roughly 600,000 residents. That number has swelled to more than a million as evacuees from New Orleans have escaped to the state’s capital city.

“The hurricane has really turned life upside down across the South,” Rush said.

Jay indicated his home had sustained some storm damage but noted his family had not lost anything of real size.

“We’ve been burning brush all week and will be for another week or so as we cleanup the mess,” he said.

The storm knocked out power in Baton Rouge for several days and Rush stated his kids had been staying with him all week, as the power to their homes had not yet been restored.

Family and friends back in Memphis sent Rush a care package that he has passed along to his church, which is housing and administering aid to refugees from New Orleans.

“Mother mentioned it at church the Sunday after the storm and before you knew it people in Memphis were sending money,” Rush said. “It’s just amazing the way people have responded with donations.”

The Presbyterian Church along with several local residents have sent donations nearing $1,000 to the Rush family. The gifts have helped the Baton Rouge church take care of those in need.

Rush said the Memphis contributions were one among hundreds they have witnessed in their community as the nation has worked diligently to try to aid victims.

“People all over the country, from A to Z, have come to the rescue,” he said. “Before I left the church this evening we were unloading a semi-load of paper goods and pharmaceutical items that came from Wisconsin. Those people drove all night to get here with these needed items. The generosity is amazing.”

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