Katrina stories prompt time of sharing

Evacuees, service groups, organizations gather to present program on Blount county response to hurricane

There are many, many "Katrina" stories. Some are uplifting, others painful. All are worth the telling and hearing, even miles away from the devestation the hurricane caused, because many of the stories now have Blount County connections.

At 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 9, the Blount County Public Library will host a program for sharing the ongoing story of Blount County’s Response to Hurricane Katrina.

Seeking to illustrate the cooperative effort of many different groups, the library has invited a panel of people to describe their participation in the aftermath of the tragedy of Katrina.

The program will include a panel of individuals and organizations who have participated in the ongoing response. There will also be Cajun music and some artwork by physical therapist, RaRa Schlitt of "Favorite Quotations of Katrina Evacuees."

Various people will each share personal stories about how they and/or their organization have participated to responding to
the ongoing needs and crises as they’ve arisen for people who evacuated to Blount County as well as for Blount County residents who opened their hearts and help to family, friends and strangers who sought refuge.

"It was a living hell to be in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit, but once the plane brought me and my family to Blount County, the people here have been just wonderful," says Shawn Bazile, an evacuee who arrived with 12 family members, several of whom were severely ill.

Bazile, currently employed in Knoxville, still resides in Blount County, a place she calls "a little slice of heaven."

As evacuees arrived in Blount County and as Blount County families started having contacts and arrivals of family and friends, the American Red Cross, Blount County Chapter, was the "triage" unit for services, registering evacuees and referring them to appropriate resources throughout the community. A multitude of organizations worked together to
coordinate needed services.

Groups, organizations and people who will be participating on the panel include

  • American Red Cross, Blount County chapter: Mary Caylor
  • Health/Medical: Blount County Health Department: Kathy Abbott
  • United Way of Blount County: Jean Williamson
  • Churches: Chilhowee Baptist Center Travel Units for Rebuilding - Kelly Campbell
  • Media: The Daily Times
  • Blount County Public Library
  • Tennessee Career Center: Shandy Hensley
  • Artist/Physical Therapist: RaRa Schlitt
  • Hurricane Katrina Evacuee: Shawn Bazile

Now, more than a year later, the work continues.

Even as the victims of Katrina are still dealing with the emotional trauma and the harsh reality of rebuilding homes and life circumstances, people in Blount County continue to offer resources and assistance.

For example, several church groups still travel to the hurricane area to assist with home construction. Numerous people still offer housing, medical assistance and other help for new residents who no longer have any coastal homes, schools or jobs to which to return.

For many evacuees, there are no homes, family or jobs to which to return. Therefore, here in Blount County, the story continues.

This program is free and open to the public. The Blount County Public Library is located at 508 N. Cusick Street, Maryville. For further information about other library programs or services, call the library at 865-982-0981 or visit the Web site at www.blountlibrary.org.

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