A new Georgia home for Katrina evacuees - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

A new Georgia home for Katrina evacuees

November 3, 2005

Tifton- As Katrina roared toward New Orleans, Kenyatta Belton and her family rolled out of town. They didn't find a hotel room until they got to a town they'd never heard of, Tifton, Georgia. Two months later the Belton family is calling Tifton home.

From the outside, the Belton's home in New Orleans didn't look that bad. Behind the front door it was another story, mold clings to bowed walls. The home was nothing like they left it August 28th.

"The water, when it came in, it just tumbled everything around, the sofa, the refrigerator, everything was, the refrigerator was on top of the stove and dishwashers, I mean washing machine," said Delton Belton, Katrina evacuee.

"I knew it was going to be bad, but I didn't, you don't know how bad it's going to be until you see it. So I knew it was going to be bad, so I just prepared myself, you don't have anything Debbie," said Delton's daughter Debbie.

The family sought refuge in Tifton and liked the area and the heart of the people so much, it was an easy decision to stay.

"Starting over, all our friends are scattered, our church members are scattered. Our church was damaged as well so, it wasn't just our family, it was all of our families," said Delton.

The Beltons recovered little from their home. Childhood pictures unrecognizable. Devin's trumpet, covered in mold. Delton's watch corroded, but still ticking. Rebuilding what they lost would be no easy task but plenty of new friends in Tifton made it easier.

"We've had just so many people embrace us and be helpful, the school has been wonderful getting the kids acclimated to what their curriculum is and they're doing very well in school," said Kenyatta Belton.

Chatam House in Atlanta and Turner Furniture helped make this house a home. The Tifton Housing Authority helped the Belton's find the house. Its been an adjustment for the entire family, especially the kids.

"Things were kind of a certain way for them and they've been pulled away from that and thrown into a whole new situation and just to see them go out with a fighting attitude it really keeps us strong and knowing that we have to continue on," said Kenyatta.

"It's like home. Surprisingly, the first night we were here, I slept the whole night and normally when I'm in new places I toss and turn all night, but I slept the whole night and that was the first sign of this is a real home," said Debbie.

"I'm trying to, I start, when I was at my old school, Hinds, I started football, but then the hurricane messed it all up so, I'm trying to get into football," said Devin.

And as they piece together their lives and secure jobs, they know that they've been given a new chance and a fresh start. Kenyatta has started her new job with DFACS.

"My husband is still looking for work, but we are just kind of getting in and fitting in to the community," said Kenyatta.

And though it's been hard, the task was made easier thanks to the help of new friends and strong family ties.

"You take a deep breath, you say a prayer and you just get on with getting on, you do what you have to do. We've had a lot of help though," said Kenyatta.

Help making it through the storm to build a new Georgia home. The storm scattered much of the Belton's family who lived in New Orleans. They're trying to talk more family into relocating to south Georgia.

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