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Chased off by Hurricane Katrina, family finds refuge in Chico

Thursday night marked three weeks since Dorene Harvey and her two youngest children escaped the Hurricane Katrina-ravaged city of Slidell, La.

Now the three Harveys are staying with Dorene’s son and daughter-in-law in Chico.

Dorene and her husband Robert made their home in Lake Catherine, Orleans Parish. But fortunately they did not come face-to-face with Katrina there.

“It was like an island and now it’s really like an island,” said Dorene, managing a smile when she talks about the area she called home.

Before the hurricane hit the coast, the family evacuated to a friend’s house in Slidell. Even though that city went underwater as well, luck was on the Harveys’ side. At the house they were staying the worst damage was from a tree the storm pushed over the garage.

Robert is still there, cutting trees and cleaning yards, but not expecting to get paid until FEMA and the insurance companies trickle down funds to the homeowners.

Dorene, however, couldn’t wait. She gave up the daily grind of standing in line for ice and water and decided to come to Washington until things stabilize.

A family’s life soaked

Dorene was prepared and was able to save the most precious memories from the storm’s wrath.

“I lived on the water,” she said. “So, I was always ready to evacuate. I still have my pictures because that’s one thing you always kept in a box.”

The box of pictures is safe and dry and so are the Harveys’ truck and car, though the latter suffered a dent on the hood from the falling tree.

From a photo that a neighbor’s son took of their own house, Dorene said she concludes the damage is too great.

Dorene and her husband also had a mechanic shop in New Orleans. The building is still there, she says, because it was made of concrete. But it is submerged.

“Once that kind of water gets in, there’s no fixing the tools,” she said.

The Harveys will rebuild their life in the Big Easy, or at least in the outskirts, possibly in Slidell. But Robert is planning on working as a mechanic for another’s

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