Jonesboro Katrina survivors preparing to take in family as Isaac - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro Katrina survivors preparing to take in family as Isaac approaches

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Hurricane Katrina survivors in Jonesboro are preparing to take in family members as Tropical Storm Isaac approaches the Gulf Coast.

 

Survivor Keywania Dinet said she and her two sons went to New Orleans this past weekend to attend the funeral of her mother-in-law.  They planned to stay until Monday, but decided to come back to Jonesboro to make arrangements for dozens of family members and friends to stay in her home.

 

Dinet also provided shelter for family during Hurricane Gustav in 2008.

 

"For Gustav, I think I had 27 or in the early 30's, but I had a lot of people, and we all fit. So far, right now it may be 40 plus that want to come," she said. "It's going to be a lot of people and a lot of kids. Looks like everybody's had kids since Katrina."

 

Region 8 News interviewed Dinet in 2010, five years after she and her family evacuated New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

 

After settling in Jonesboro, Dinet said obstacles continued to plague her family.

 

"I'm living only on disability. I lost my oldest son last summer."

 

Dinet's 15-year-old son Steven died August 2011 during a family trip near the Spring River in Hardy, Arkansas. Family initially believed Steven drowned before the Arkansas State Crime Lab ruled accidental choking as the cause of death.

 

Dinet expects family members to start arriving Monday night.

 

She said during family members' stay in Jonesboro during Hurricane Gustav, her church family and Jonesboro residents donated several supplies and personal items to support the evacuees.

 

"This is a giving and wonderful community. My church, Nettleton Baptist, and the members of it, and just my neighbors, other churches, everybody just poured their hearts out to us."

 

Monday the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Department activated an online program that lists available hotel and motel rooms. The system was developed after the state took in thousands of evacuees from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

 
The department publishes a broad list of commercial properties for its tourism guides and those hotels and motels are plugged into the system known as COVER, which stands for Communication of Vacancies Emergency Response Plan.
 
According to the agency, this is the first time the system has been activated for an emergency.
 
The listings can be found at www.arkansas.com/cover.
 
Copyright 2012 KAIT. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report. 
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