Family members weather Katrina in Cape Girardeau

Friday, September 9, 2005

For one week, 19 family members displaced by Hurricane Katrina lived under one roof. The already close-knit family grew closer as they rallied to meet needs.

Over the years, each time a hurricane threatened metro New Orleans towns, Dr. Mark and Barbara Kinder invited family to stay in their five-bedroom, four-bathroom Cape Girardeau home. This year, the hurricane drove in more than they bargained for.

James and Nancy Waguespack and daughter Olivia left Covington, La., early on Aug. 28 and arrived that same day. By Wednesday, two sisters with their children and Barbara Kinder's parents, Buddy and Rosalie Waller from Harahan, La., joined the three Waguespacks, the Kinders with their three children and Dr. Mark Kinder's mother.

While most of the family moved Tuesday to Baton Rouge, La., to be closer to home, the remaining five plan to move back by the end of the month.

Family informed them that a tree landed on the Waguespacks' home, and the Wallers' home sustained missing shingles and water damage.

"I think that it's a blessing that God placed Missouri so far away from New Orleans, that I have such a big house and that I'm a nurse and have the skills to take care of my parents," said Barbara Kinder.

Barbara Kinder, a registered nurse at Nell Holcomb School, was granted one month off work to tend to her two parents who require home-care nursing. Holcomb teachers pooled funding and bought enough food to feed the 19 for one week, she said.

The same day Katrina hit, 10-year-old Olivia attended her first day at Nell Holcomb. School officials and coaches are arranging for Olivia to play soccer and allowed her to practice alongside her 10-year-old cousin, Molly Kinder, Barbara Kinder's youngest. Olivia cheered from the sidelines Tuesday afternoon as Molly's team played against a team from Sikeston.

"It's kind of sad that her house has a tree on it, but it's cool that she gets to be up here," Molly said. The two, along with another cousin, painted pictures and auctioned them off to family members for up to $2. They raised $23.23, which they will donate to Holcomb's hurricane relief fund raiser.

"The Cape residents have been overwhelming in their offers with places to stay and food," said James Waguespack.

He plans to salvage family memorabilia when he drives home this weekend, he said, and a Cape Girardeau man offered a trailer for him to use for the trip.

"We could have it a lot worse than some of the others do," he said.

The only family member they could not stay in contact with was Mutz, the Waguespacks' 18-year-old cat that survived the hurricane from home.

"She's deaf, so she didn't hear anything," Olivia said.

jmetelski@semissourian.com

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