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The Pueblo Chieftain Online

September 13, 2005

Erica Koenig (left) gives evacuee Tina Alexander a welcome hug upon her arrival in Pueblo on Monday afternoon with her daughter, Maleeya, 2, and three other children. Koenig first got to know the Alexander family while working with a relocation group after Hurricane Katrina.

Latest evacuees arrive in Pueblo

Fourteen transplanted families have new homes.

By KAREN VIGIL
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN

A Grayline bus pulled up to the Agape Fellowship Church on Broadway Avenue on Monday afternoon.

The sun shone brightly.

Equally bright were the hopes of Tina Alexander.

The mother of four - Lyndell, 9, La Johna, 5, Zireyal, 3 and Maleeya, 2 - helped unload some of their household items - dishes, and diapers and more kitchenware - from the bus.

She'd collected them along the way from Alexandria, La., while living in four shelters en route to Colorado.

The Alexanders have been homeless since Hurricane Katrina forced them from their New Orleans home.

Life has become uncertain. Profound, for sure, in some moments. But only definite in its changes.

Alexander took time for an embrace, a handshake here and there, and goodbyes to those who had befriended her on the long bus ride.

Then a deep breath, and Alexander began a walk down the stairway to the church basement where a new start in a state she had never before visited began to unfold.

"Hi. Welcome to our church," said Julia Leyba, a church member who'd taken on the task of official greeter at the basement landing.

"What's your name?" Leyba asked.

"Hi. My name's Lyndell," said Alexander's eldest child, as he turned toward the dining room.

"Hi. How are you all doing?" said Alexander following her son's lead.

A dozen or so church members were on hand to greet the latest Pueblo transplants with offerings of a pizza and chicken luncheon.

The Pueblo Chieftain Online
Volunteers Marlene Rodriquez (left) and Becky Atencio prepare lunch Monday afternoon at the Agape Fellowship Church for a group of Hurricane Katrina evacuees that arrived in Pueblo.

The Alexanders will be living in a Pueblo West home donated by the Pueblo West Ecumenical Church, according to Doug Sterner of the Home of Heroes Katrina Relocation Program. The assistance comes with an insured vehicle.

Also arriving on Monday, courtesy of the Home of Heroes program were:

A single mother and four children adopted by Mesa Christian Fellowship Church who will live in an East Side home.

A family of four arriving late Monday who have been adopted by Shepherd of the Hills Church.

A sister of one of the families that already has relocated in Pueblo.

The girlfriend and small child of one of the men who also already has relocated here.

Sterner said the response both locally and nationally to the Home of Heroes relocation effort has been overwhelming.

He cited an example: "I got a (house) trailer that the people are just going to deed over to somebody, but the people (moving in) are going to need a car," he said.

Outside of Pueblo, Sterner said he has homes waiting for families in Trinidad, Colorado City, Denver and Wyoming.

Sterner said relocating families also have responded to the recruiting effort of Denverite Todd Clevenger and Puebloans Andee Ames and Rev. Keith Colvin who are recruiting families in Houston, and a dozen-member team in Louisiana doing the same.

"We have now placed more than 50 people (14 families in Pueblo), Pueblo West, Canon City and La Junta. We have also placed an equal amount in homes in the Denver area, and team members have worked together to place families in other states as well," Sterner said.

He said, however, that some families are hesitant to come to Colorado as promises of housing from others and money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been hollow.

Sterner said local donations of household items, clothing and furniture also have been plentiful.

The "Katrina Store," or the Colorado State Fair's Palace of Agriculture, is where volunteers go to stock households for the new arrivals.

People may drop off items there, he said.

"We are requesting donations of food (perishables and nonperishables), dishes and appliances and quality furniture, bicycles, toiletries and nonprescription medicines of aspirin, cold medicine, etc.," Sterner said. "Please do not bring more clothing at this time. Gift cards to grocery stores and department stores are welcome."

Donations are accepted from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

On Monday, Anne Stattelman of the Posada sheltering agency announced two new phone numbers - 583-6291 and 583-6292 - are available for people to call with questions about or to make contributions for the hurricane survivors. Stattelman said contributions will go to any hurricane-transplanted household unless a donor indicates they should go to a specific family.

Pueblo's human service and nonprofit network asks that hurricane survivors first check in with Posada, 1010 N. Grand Ave., where they may obtain a FEMA number and American Red Cross assistance.

She said Pueblo County Office of Emergency Management is providing four phones to Posada for use in coordinating hurricane relief. A county-provided fax number is 583-6295. Stattelman said a Pueblo City-County Health Department staffer has been relocated temporarily to assist in the resettlement effort.

 

Publish Date Thursday, September 13, 2005
1996-2005 The pueblo Chieftain Online

 

 

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