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Stories from the Storm: Help with the Laundry

Original reporting by Angela Webster for Christian Children's Fund.

Only memories remain — memories supplemented by a few precious photographs, that is.


 Image of framed photographs salvaged by Josephine and her family
Laid out side by side, these framed photographs are among the few things salvaged from the family's storm-destroyed house.

When Hurricane Katrina tore through the Gulf Coast in late August, Josephine and her family fled their Slidell, La. home. In the rush to outrun the impending storm, the family didn’t have time to grab much.


“We evacuated so fast we didn’t even take our legal papers,” said Alicia, Josephine’s daughter.  “I hope and pray that people will be kind enough to understand we don’t have birth certificates or shot records for the children.”

And those items are all that remain for the family of seven adults and five children. The entire family returned briefly to their Slidell home two weeks after the storm and were met with the unfortunate reality of Hurricane Katrina. Sifting through the remains of their house, the family salvaged books, toys and a few framed photographs.

“I lost everything I had,” said Josephine, who lived in her home for 53 years. “It's just a frame now.”

The storm has split the family, which once lived within a few miles of each other. Family members are scattered across three states, searching for employment and housing. Most family members are now in a Starkville hotel, where they expect to reside for at least six months.

In addition to the separation, the family also discovered one necessity that became inconvenient: doing laundry.

“We’ve spent a fortune at the laundry keeping our clothes clean,” Alicia said. “We had everything we needed at home and we just didn’t realize how tough it would be taking care of simple things like laundry.”


 Image of Josephine and her family at Brickfire
Josephine, in white T-shirt, and her family are receiving hurricane assistance through Brickfire, a CCF affiliate in Jackson, Miss.

CCF has made that menial task easier.


Through the Brickfire community program in Starkville, CCF is working to provide a free mini-laundromat for families displaced by the hurricane. Brickfire is one of four CCF affiliates in Mississippi involved in hurricane assistance. Additional affiliates include: Operation Shoestring in Jackson, We Care Community Services in Vicksburg and North Delta Youth Development in Whitman County.

As the cost of washing clothes mounts, the free mini-laundromats in Starkville will mean relief for this evacuated family.

“This will make our lives so much easier,” Alicia said of the laundromat. “We can spend the little cash we have on things to help the children feel a little more normal.”