Tuesday, September 6, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Thousands of Vietnamese uprooted from homes again

The Associated Press

HOUSTON — Thousands of Vietnamese settled in the familiar climate of the Gulf Coast region after the upheaval of two wars in their homeland. Hurricane Katrina uprooted them again — the third mass evacuation in a collective memory of loss.

Quan Hong Huynh first learned what it meant to lose a home and escape near-certain destruction when he was sent to a "re-education" camp in his native Vietnam in 1975 and when he fled to the United States through Malaysia.

"We have experience about escape, about evacuation," Huynh, 55, said outside the Houston church where he was among hundreds of Vietnamese Americans being sheltered. Their homes 300 miles to the east were damaged or destroyed.

Vietnam's history is marked by two milestone evacuations when millions were uprooted — first by the war against the French that ended in 1954 and then in the 1970s.

Because of Katrina, about half of Louisiana's Vietnamese population of 30,000 have taken refuge in Houston, already the adopted home to one of the largest groups from the Southeast Asian country. Others from as far away as Mississippi and its devastated shrimping community also may be coming to Texas.

Texas has about 134,000 Vietnamese, second-most behind California, according to U.S. Census figures, which put the total Vietnamese-American population at around 1.2 million.

A Houston shopping mall that caters to Vietnamese is serving as a staging area for many refugees, who started showing up a week ago.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company


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