Katrina Evacuees Seek Help

By: Lauri Martin
By: Lauri Martin

Hundreds of evacuees came to Colorado Springs hoping to start a new life, but one year after their move, many are still suffering with emotional stress.

That's why a group called the Katrina Response Team was created. They help hurricane survivors get back on their feet physically and mentally. Seven counselors make up the team. Jen Just, one of the therapists said, “It’s a place they can go have someone to talk to.” Calvin Lidmark, another counselor, described what exactly the crisis team does. “We assist folks with recovery and mental health barriers that keep them from being successful.”

These counselors said for the past year, Katrina evacuees were just trying to survive, but now, after getting into the groove of their new lives, it all hits. "Now, for first time, they have an opportunity to feel, whether they want to or not,” Counselor Paula Wright said.

Feelings like anxiety, nightmares, and depression that are starting to surface on the one year anniversary of Katrina. Just said, “They can come in several times, as many as they want, just to talk and get stuff off of chest."

This Katrina Response Team helped survivors just like Cynthia Casper. She left Gulfport after Katrina hit with her then-pregnant daughter and granddaughter. She said the past year has been emotional, but she’s finally starting a new chapter in her life. "We’re starting fresh and new. We plan to stay here; we love it here."

In fact, Cynthia loves her new life so much that her 7-month old grandson is named Colorado after the state she said that gave her hope.

Just today alone, the counseling center saw 40 evacuees. The funding for this Katrina Response Team comes through a FEMA grant and money from the Pike's Peak Mental Health Group.

If you would like more information about the Katrina Response Group, the number is 314-0740.


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