Katrina evacuee praises volunteers


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Utah's Red Cross chapter has sent 14 volunteers to the Gulf Coast area to help with relief efforts in Hurricane Gustav.

We spoke to one man who knows first hand how crucial those efforts can be in helping people get back on their feet. He's a Hurricane Katrina evacuee who ended up in Salt Lake three years ago with just 37 cents in his pocket. He says his life has been transformed by those who offered to help.

Katrina evacuee praises volunteers

Three years ago, thousands of people were left homeless by Hurricane Katrina. With just an extra pair of pants and some change in his pocket, Ernest Timmons and others were herded onto a plane in New Orleans. They had no idea where they were going.

"As we got on the plane, as we were ascending, the guys says we're going to my home town, which is Salt Lake City. I had never heard of Salt Lake City. But here I am," Timmons said.

And, here he stays. Salt Lake is now home to this special education teacher. And Timmons credits those who helped him put his life back together.

"I would say thank you to those people who did those things. That's all I can say," he told us.

A simple thank you and a chance to help. That's why Utahn Nanette Davis is now heading to the Gulf Coast with the Red Cross.

"We're just going to give them what little comfort we can with a roof, some food, even someone to talk to or hold their hand, because they could potentially lose everything they have," she said.

Timmons says that comfort can help at a time when you don't know if you have anything to go back home to. "My heart goes out to them," he said.

And though Gustav isn't likely to be another Katrina, it was volunteers like Nanette Davis that helped Timmons start again.

"Out of that catastrophe something good has come out of it," Timmons said.

Some of these Utah volunteers will be working in the Gulf Coast region for the next three weeks. The Red Cross is trying to keep resources in the southeast in case the next storm on deck, Hanna, hits.

E-mail: lprichard@ksl.com

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