Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Many Displaced Families Arriving in Mayport

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Many Displaced Families Arriving in Mayport

Article excerpt

Byline: Drew Dixon

MAYPORT -- The hall at the usually sparse USO building on Mayport Road was crowded this week with clothes and goods donated to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Rene Adamson was surrounded by the items as the stacks kept getting higher.

But it's a claustrophobia Adamson welcomed on Wednesday, considering that a week earlier she was fighting for her life, trapped for three days beneath the debris of her house. She was buried under the rubble of her Gautier, Miss., home before being found by a rescue crew with a dog searching for any signs of life.

"I didn't think anybody was ever going to come for me," Adamson sighed at the Mayport USO center as she enjoyed a donated lunch with about a half-dozen other families who have fled the ravaged area. "I'm just glad to be alive."

They're the latest wave of Navy families evacuated to Mayport Naval Station after Katrina blasted the Pascagoula base in Mississippi.

Adamson said her husband, Keith, a petty officer on the USS John H. Hall, which relocated to Mayport, drove to Mississippi to get her after she spent three days in a hospital recovering from dehydration.

Adamson arrived in Mayport Monday and she said she's already been provided housing on the base. She's doubtful she'll ever return to Mississippi in the wake of what now is America's worst natural disaster.

"The Pascagoula base is gone," Adamson said. "There's nothing left. This is my home now."

Esmeralda Kee said she, too, is prepared to make her new home in the Mayport area. She and her three daughters, ages 11, 5 and 2, rode out the storm in their Biloxi, Miss., home.

The house held up, Kee said, but she agrees the base where her husband Travis was stationed is finished. She had to wait several days before she could leave the area in her family minivan, only after roads had been cleared. She met up with her husband in Pensacola, where he drove to with several other sailors.

"I don't think we'll be going back. There's nothing to go back to," Kee said.

In the meantime, she's trying to organize some form of communication between several other Navy family members associated with Pascagoula. Kee was the liaison for the families and the sailors aboard the USS Groves, which was also moved to Mayport. Kee's husband is a clerk aboard that ship.

While Kee acknowledged she's grateful for the base housing provided at Mayport, she's still trying to establish lines of communications for all the relatives of the sailors while maintaining her coping skills.

"I'm hoping to just get our families here," Kee said. "[Tuesday] night was the first night I've slept for more than two hours straight. This whole thing hasn't hit me yet. I'm sure when the shock wears off, I will have to deal with it. I'm still in survival mode. …

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