NEWS | Sept. 12, 2005

USSTRATCOM family survives Katrina

By Navy Lt. Denver Applehans U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs

Tech. Sgt. Dorrell Moten's new roommates
Tech. Sgt. Dorrell Moten's new roommates. (Courtesy Photo)

Mornings at the Moten household became a little more chaotic on Labor Day as it grew from one to 10 people, but Tech. Sgt. Dorrell Moten doesn't mind, because he knows that all of his immediate family survived the hurricane.

Eight days after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Moten, a personnel specialist at U.S. Strategic Command, welcomed nine relatives into his two-bedroom apartment here in Bellevue, Neb.

Moten checked into USSTRATCOM only two months ago. He was previously stationed in New Orleans as an administrative support specialist for the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at Tulane University.

He and his entire family are originally from New Orleans. They have weathered hurricanes before, but this one was different. ""We decided to leave for this hurricane because we knew that it was serious. We knew that a lot of houses would not stand a chance against a category 4 hurricane. It was better safe than sorry,"" said his sister.

His family left New Orleans two days before the storm when the evacuation order was issued. They drove to Baton Rouge, La. , but were unable to find a hotel room and finally ended up in a shelter in Shreveport, La. , four hours to the northwest.

On Sept. 5, with the breach of the levees in New Orleans, and chances of returning home looking slimmer all the time, Moten's sisters decided to split up and send the younger sisters and the children to live with their brother in Nebraska. The three older sisters chose to stay with their mother and grandmother and were taken in by a family in Monroe, La.

All nine evacuated with only the clothes on their backs and are working to put together school supplies and the basics needed to start living a normal life here in Bellevue. Most of the girls think living in Bellevue for a year will be alright, but they really miss home.

The Moten's are fortunate that they know all their immediate family members are safe, though they do not know the condition of their home. They hope to return to New Orleans sometime, but are prepared to stay here for the duration of the school year at a minimum.

""We really don't have a choice, we all know that we can't go back home,"" said his sister ""I guess everybody is accepting their new life. But, we really miss home. ""