Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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A new life, a long way from home

Seattle Times staff reporter

When the Haynes family fled their home in New Orleans two Sundays ago, they had no idea that a little more than a week later, they would be starting anew in Seattle.

Gone are the everyday anchors of their lives: They still don't know where some of their family members are. Their lifelong home is most likely destroyed. And their jobs no longer exist.

Joseph Haynes Sr., his wife, Emma Haynes, their two grown sons and a family friend drove into Seattle on Sunday, one of the first families fleeing the Hurricane Katrina devastation to arrive in this region.

"I'm hoping in God that we can settle down," said Joseph Haynes, who, until this week, was a mechanic and pastor of a nondenominational church.

Two weeks ago, they were in their home in the West Bank area of New Orleans, keeping an eye on TV news coverage of the storm — "just concerned at first," said Emma Haynes, 52, who owned a wig salon back home. But when they realized how ferocious the storm would be, they decided to leave, "thinking it would just be a few days."

They each packed a few items of clothing and, with their friend Earl Mosby, left New Orleans in two cars.

They drove first to Houston, but all the hotels were booked up from others escaping the storm, so they drove on to Dallas. There, they found that many hotels were doubling their prices because of the hurricane, but they finally found a relatively inexpensive hotel and stayed for several days.

Then the levees were breached and their hometown flooded. They had to make a choice. "We really didn't want to go to the Astrodome," where thousands of evacuees were staying, Emma Haynes said. "But we knew we couldn't keep paying the hotel amount every night."

They called their third son, who is in Seattle, had been homeless and is working with the Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP), a local community-service agency, to get a permanent home of his own.

CAMP told the Haynes family it could help with temporary housing, food and other needs. For now, CAMP is putting the family up at a hotel on Aurora Avenue, while they search for more permanent housing. Staff members said they will help the family apply for public assistance and other programs to help them get re-established.

Community partners that CAMP works with are supplying hot meals for the family for now; items from CAMP's clothing bank are available should they need it. The family arrived without cold-weather clothes, as "it was not our intention to come this far," said Joseph Haynes.

In the meantime they worry about the many cousins, aunts and uncles they've yet to hear from in New Orleans.

"It hurts, having to leave everything behind," Emma Haynes said.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company


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