Katrina Reunion Celebration - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Ridgeland 08/28/06

Katrina Reunion Celebration

By Roslyn Anderson
roslyn@wlbt.net

In the year since Hurricane Katrina, a Louisiana woman has given birth, been separated from her new born and family and relocated to Jackson.

Her journey was riddled with obstacles, but today she celebrates a new life and passion and overcoming Katrina.

A crowd of family and friends is gathered at the HANDS headquarters in Ridgeland to sing happy birthday to a toddler who is unaware of the trials his family has endured in a year.

This is more than a birthday party for one year old Lorenzo Traylor, it's more of a celebration of life and overcoming disaster.

Lorenzo was born premature, four days before Hurricane Katrina struck.

His mother La Shawn lay in a coma in a New Orleans hospital as the hurricane approached.  

"When I woke up a day before Katrina came in they had told me they had already shipped my son to another hospital in Louisiana", Lashawn Traylor said.

The then 26 year old wife and mother of four never saw her 2 pound 11 ounce son.

She and 10 other new mothers were trapped without power for four days until being airlifted to awaiting buses bound for Fort Worth Texas.

Traylor said, "I stepped off the bus and I said 'Could you help me find my baby"? and I had some pictures that the nurse had took."

The first person she saw was Faith Ellis, a staff member of Texas Congressman Michael Burgess.

The worried mother said the meeting was divine intervention that she met a woman named Faith.

The Congressional Outreach Aide was compelled to help.

Ellis said, "I said 'Lord I just promised this woman that I'm gonna find her baby and there are hundreds of babies that are separated from their mothers' and I said 'I don't know how i'm gonna do it, and you've got to help me."

In less than 24 hours the congressman's staff located Lorenzo in a Baton Rouge hospital.

They called each hospital in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama until they found the one infant with LaShawn's matching hospital bracelet.

Her husband, Pastor Lionel Traylor, had evacuated to Jackson and immediately drove to Fort Worth to reunite his family.

HANDS or Helping Americans Needing Disaster Support flew Ellis in for this birthday celebration.

The non-profit organization was established after the hurricane and through Christ United Methodist Church of Jackson began delivering an estimated $75 million dollars in supplies to the coast.

LaShawn now works for HANDS.

Executive director Scott Thigpen said, "She can relate very well to what they're going through."

The Louisiana native now works with the family connection program matching coastal families with church families and other programs.

Thigpen said, "We are here tonight to really celebrate the great things that have happened during the recovery."

The St. Bernard parish native said, "Through my experiences and my pains, I'm able to reach out and let them know that they can rise above Katrina. There is hope beyond Katrina."

HANDS still needs volunteers and assistance with rebuilding the coast.

To help call 601-957-0094 or log onto www.hands.ms.

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