August 30, 2005 – Posted at 5:12 p.m. CDT
JONESBORO, AR -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says it could be weeks or months before those displaced by Hurricane Katrina can go home. The storm has removed millions of people from their homes along the Gulf Coast.
Jonesboro has now become a temporary home to about 100 storm refugees, and good neighbors from across Region 8 are stepping up to help.
On any given day, you'll find Angie Cooper at home, selling her three children’s used clothes on E-Bay.
“I saw the story about the Dinet family this morning on the news. I decided that they would be better served to donate to them, and hopefully they can use these clothes and have a better use for them,” said Cooper as she packed up bags of clothes and toys.
From one mother to another, it was a chance to give.
“She doesn't know what she is going home to, if there is anything. It gave her a little peace of mind to know that her kids would at least have clothes,” said Cooper.
The Dinet family showed up in Region 8 on Monday with little more than the clothes on their backs and a list of forgotten items.
“Two of my kids are asthmatic, and I packed a suitcase that I left with their two asthma pumps. One of them catches seizures, so I left his Phenobarbital ,” said hurricane refugee Keywania Dinet.
News from home is grim.
“I'm 90 to 95% sure we have nothing to go back to. If you did have anything, they're stealing. We have nothing to go back to. What we have is what we have,” said Dinet.
Our cameras followed along as tragedy brought two strangers and mothers together.
“It was like an angel. When I saw her face, I just felt her presence. I was so grateful. When I saw the bags of clothes she had in her hands, all I could do was cry,” said Dinet tearfully, “When you are a mother all you worry about is your children, and to know that they have more clothes, now they have toys to play with, and books to read. Now my mind is at ease, because they are happy.”
“Jonesboro has a huge heart. for this community and everybody around it, and I hope that they see that by the time that they leave,” said Cooper.
Nationwide, federal officials are urging folks who want to help to donate money instead of traveling to the Gulf Coast.
The Dinet family says they've been told it could be a month before they are allowed to return home. Through the generosity of Susan Frederick of Slydale, Louisiana, the family can afford to stay at the Econo Lodge in Jonesboro until Thursday.
The American Red Cross Disaster Relief Team will open a shelter for refugees at the First Baptist Church in Jonesboro. The shelter will open on Thursday morning around 11 a.m. For more information, call (870) 932-3212.
“We were going to open the shelter Tuesday, but it turned out that they were all taken care of until Thursday morning, which gives me a little more time to get set up which makes them a little more comfortable,” said American Red Cross Community Services Specialist Mark Massey.