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Hurricane Katrina Leaves Lasting Scars - Even In ND

December 26, 2006

Minot, ND - North Dakota is about as far away from an ocean shore as states come, but that didn't stop Hurricane Katrina from making a figurative landfall here.

Last summer when the category-four storm slammed into the Gulf Coast, it scattered weary storm victims to the four winds, including North Dakota. Officials with Community Action across the state sprang into action, tracking down shelter and necessities for displaced families. Connie Bounting in the Minot office says she learned long ago that giving isn't something restricted to one time of year; in her line of work, it's what they do all year round.

"The (Katrina evacuees) that needed help had a lot of barriers at that point. They needed somebody to help direct them where they needed to go and what they needed to do because a lot of them were devastated."

According to Bounting, about five families found refuge in Minot, but there were others across the state. She says many who made the trip here already had ties to the area and some have chosen to make North Dakota their permanent home.

At its peak, the sustained winds from Hurricane Katrina reached 175 miles per hour, but reconstruction continues at a snail's pace, with promised financial assistance still undelivered. Malaak Compton-Rock, the wife of comedian Chris Rock, helps fund a mobile clinic for those without access to medical care in New Orleans. After a recent visit, she says many children still need rescuing.

"Children left in Louisiana are trying to go to school and feed themselves while being raised by older sisters or young aunts."

Compton-Rock adds that only half the schools and hospitals are open, and much-needed mental health services are depleted.

The latest on Katrina recovery is online at www.brookings.edu.

Debbie Aasen/Eric Mack, Public News Service - ND