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At a glance: United States of America

Katrina: One family’s survival story

Tony Bridges holding his daughters Shania, eight, and Brooke, three, whom he rescued from the flood waters of Hurricane Katrina.

BILOXI, 12 September 2005 – UNICEF correspondent Thomas Nybo spent eight days in the hurricane-ravaged areas of Mississippi reporting on the aftermath of Katrina – focusing on how the disaster has impacted the lives of children.

Tony Bridges and his daughters, three-year-old Brooke and eight-year-old Shania, are just one of the families Nybo met who are struggling to cope. Ten days after the storm he returned with them to the the town of Biloxi to examine their flood-ravaged apartment, the only building left standing on their block.

Bridges remembered how the pounding water smashed through the door. "I was worried!" he said. "I had to have the conversation no parent ever wants to have with their kid, and that's to sit down and tell 'em that you love 'em and that we're gonna make it through. You try to reassure them but I was scared to say the least. Very scared."

The father managed to force open a window and swim to the staircase while carrying both his daughters in his arms. They found a dry apartment on the second floor, but realized they faced a new set of challenges.

"The buildings were collapsing around us. I grabbed my kids and we came back down the steps and it was probably about neck or chin deep.”  They slipped back into the water and swam between two damaged buildings and made their way to a house on a hill behind their apartment. The owner of the house let them in and that's where they waited out the storm.

Now, two weeks later, Tony, Brooke and Shania are staying at a friend's house trying to rebuild their lives.

Watch the video for more on the Bridges family’s ordeal.








12 September 2005:
UNICEF correspondent Thomas Nybo reports from Biloxi, Mississippi, on how one family escaped the flood waters of Hurricane Katrina.

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Frontline diary

UNICEF's Allison Hickling is working as a volunteer in Texas. Read her account of the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

Wednesday 7 September – Searching for loved ones

Tuesday 6 September – Evacuees at the Reliant Center

Monday 5 September - Volunteering to help in Katrina’s aftermath

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