Friday, September 2, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

E-mail article     Print

Woman flees Katrina for refuge in Kirkland

Seattle Times staff reporter

When Amanda Beheyt stepped off the plane at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport yesterday, she had four bags that held the only belongings she had saved from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.

Beheyt's house in Violet, La., about a 30-minute drive east of New Orleans, was under water, her car was with friends who needed transportation, and Beheyt had decided to wait out the devastation and uncertainty with her parents in Kirkland.

"I was lucky; I got out," Beheyt, 31, said after hugging her family at the airport. "It's a nightmare out there."

Beheyt grew up on the Eastside, graduated from Lake Washington High School and moved to Louisiana about two years ago on a whim. After landing a good job and purchasing her dream home in January, Beheyt thought she would never move again.

Beheyt is luckier than many of the hundreds of thousands displaced by the storm, but still doesn't know if she will ever be able to return to the life she had made for herself.

"It just really hasn't sunk in; I keep thinking that I'm gonna go back," Beheyt said.

Tara Lynch, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross, said everyone displaced by the hurricane faces similar uncertainties.

The top priority is food and safe shelter, Lynch said, and after those basic necessities are taken care of, refugees will begin to think about the status of their homes and jobs.

That describes Beheyt's experience. Her parents, Sue and Dan Beheyt, say they're just happy their daughter is safe.

"We are all in tears; we were worried sick," her father said.

He said he called his daughter Saturday after watching the news and seeing the possibility of Katrina hitting New Orleans.

"Mandy, pack up, get out," Dan Beheyt remembers telling his daughter.

And that's what she did, packing a few boxes and imagining she would return to her new brick, three-bedroom house before long.

Saturday, she drove more than 350 miles from Violet north and inland to Monroe, La., where she stayed with friends. Not wanting to be a burden and worried about running out of money, Beheyt bought a one-way plane ticket to Seattle, where she knew she'd have support.

"She's got family, she's got a roof over her head, she can coordinate everything she needs to coordinate," said Sue Beheyt. "I just think of her being down in one of the domes — how horrible. She's more fortunate than the thousands there. Her woes aren't as deep as theirs."

Ari Bloomekatz: 206-464-2540 or

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company


Get home delivery today!