Extended family homeless after Ike

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September 18, 2008 7:36:22 PM PDT
Hurricane Ike has impacted just about everyone. The small community of Oak Island in Chambers County was devastated, but neighbors are working to rebuild their lives.HURRICANE IKE: Breaking news on Ike | POD locations | Person locator | Local gas station report | Hurricane guide | Viewer photos of Ike | Latest power numbers

Marsha Laird and her family are living out of their cars while they wait for FEMA's help.

"It's tough when you ain't got no place to stay," said family member Mary Florez. "No clothes or nothing for anybody."

They're not alone. Their extended family lost their homes and livelihoods to this storm, so they can't' even look to one another for help.

Mary said, "Each night we've been staying at a different house, bouncing from place to place. We don't know where we're going to be next."

So each night they search for a place to sleep, and each day they comb through the debris. They've found scattered furniture, a family tree and assorted athletic medals. But the joy of finding each irreplaceable keepsake is quickly replaced by the pain of how much they've lost.

"It's gonna be fine," one family member told another. "Everybody's alive, and mama loves you."

Mary says it's going to be tough to rebuild in this low income neighborhood when they don't have the means to start over.

"It makes me want to go to sleep and wake up and make everything go back to normal," Mary said.

Obviously it will not go back to normal for a very long time. County officials are handing out fliers to make sure survivors know there's a place for them to get food, water and ice. But many neighbors refuse to leave, worried about looters. At least one neighbor reports he's had people trying to steal his belongings.

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