Wednesday, September 21, 2005

New Orleans family finds refuge in Suisun City

From Daily Republic // Sept. 21, 2005
Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - When Stella Price and her family headed west from hurricane-shattered New Orleans, they had little more than the clothes on their back and a car rented with the use of an American Red Cross voucher.

When Tech. Sgt. Renard Curry called his father - Arnold Miller - in New Orleans the day before Katrina hit, Miller said he was planning to ride Katrina out in the Ninth Ward home where he was born and raised.

A continent away from the devastated New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina's victims are making new lives for themselves with the help of Solano County residents.

'This is a dream'
Price and her family were saved from their flooded New Orleans home by helicopter after Katrina tore through the city.

It took days to gather together the other five members of her family from Red Cross shelters and decide to head west to her sister's house in Suisun City.

"We were just trying to get to family," Price said.

The Prices' salvation came in the form of an alliance of Suisun City employees, residents and local business people who were already putting together goods, services and housing vouchers to help families made homeless by Katrina.

That included a house provided by Jacqueline Kendrick, fixed up by Suisun City workers and business owners, and filled with clothes, linen, food, furniture and kitchenware to make it a home.

"It was people from all over, most of it done by Suisun City employees," said City Clerk Linda Hobson, who spearheaded the effort.

"I was in Dallas watching the news (when Katrina hit)," Kendrick said of how she got involved. "The Lord told me to help. I had no idea then that this would be the way."

This was not what Price and her family expected when they arrived in Suisun City.

"This is a dream. To be blessed with this is a dream," Price said. "We didn't know where we were going where I was going to live when we left Houston."

Hobson and others are still working to hook up family member Luther Price, who previously worked in New Orleans as a truck driver, and Edward Price, who worked as a laborer, with work.

Chaos in the Superdome
Curry spent the first few days after the hurricane trying to track down his father, finally locating him in the Houston Astrodome, where he was bused after spending several days in the Superdome.

With the support of his unit and help from the Red Cross, he collected his father and brought him to live with his family here.

Miller changed his mind during the hurricane when he looked outside to see a nearby tree bent over in the wind. He and a friend drove through the storm to the Superdome feeling they would be safe there.

"There was chaos in that dome," Miller said. "There was a loud rumbling. Then roof blew off and the rain poured in."

During the next few days, Miller had to struggled to stay dry, get food and water, and steer clear of the thugs whom he remembered were singing hymns while they were breaking into vending machines.

Miller was shipped to the Astrodome, which he said was much better organized than the Superdome.

During this time, Curry was worried about his father, trying to track down the locations of him and other family members.

"It was stressful," Curry said. "I didn't know what was up with him."

Once he located his father, Curry flew to Houston where he found Miller getting his first decent sleep since the hurricane in a hotel room.

"It was a good feeling to find him. We talked for three to four hours," Curry said.

Now, Curry has his father at his home here, got him set up with the Veterans Administration and is getting great support from friends and people in his unit.

"It has been good now," Curry said. "I have been trying to get him out to California but it took a storm to get him here."

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

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