|A young boy is hoisted to safety by the U.S. Coastguard in New Orleans|
BILOXI, Mississippi/LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas, 7 September 2005 – Families who escaped Hurricane Katrina with their children are still trying to rebuild their lives more than a week after the devastating storm.
Thousands of families are living in temporary shelters with little to do, reports UNICEF Correspondent Thomas Nybo, who met with children and parents in Biloxi, one of the towns hardest hit by the disaster.
One family he spoke to said they fled to a relative's house in the early hours of the storm but had to escape out of a window and swim to safety after their new refuge was engulfed by the flood waters.
In Little Rock, 10-year-old David, who had recently arrived there from New Orleans, says that he, along with his parents and three brothers, were among the last people to leave the city.
“You couldn’t live there anymore,” he said. “There were no stores or nothing and people were looting and there was nowhere to go. It was just like a big island and everywhere else was surrounded by water.”
David’s family has rented a house for a few weeks, while they try to enrol their children in school and get back on their feet.
Some families in Biloxi say they have heard reports on the radio that local schools will open soon, giving them hope of finding some kind of normalcy.
UNICEF is concerned that traumatised children receive the care they need following the hurricane. Counselling, and a quick return to school can help children regain a sense of stability in the aftermath of a disaster.
The U.S. government has accepted an offer from the United Nations to assist with the aid effort. UNICEF is one of several UN agencies providing assistance to U.S. federal authorities and has deployed emergency teams to Atlanta, Little Rock and Denton, Texas.
UNICEF keeps a range of pre-packed emergency supplies for disaster relief and has forwarded information on this to U.S. officials.
UNICEF's Allison Hickling is working as a volunteer in Texas. Read her account of the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.