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KC Families Remember Hurricane Katrina

Gloria LaCroix Burns welcomed 14 members of her family into her North Kansas City home after the floods.
Gloria LaCroix Burns welcomed 14 members of her family into her North Kansas City home after the floods.

By Sylvia Maria Gross and Alex Smith

Kansas City, MO – Tuesday marks the official one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which forever changed the lives of millions of people throughout the country - not just residents of the Gulf Coast, but their families, friends and even strangers. Thousands of survivors of the storm found their way to Kansas City; most of them were considered self-evacuees, who left before the flooding and had an emergency plan and contacts here. A few months later, FEMA had registered about 5,500 Katrina survivors in Missouri, and 1200 in Kansas. Here's a few of their stories, as told to our reporters last September.

That was New Orleans native Henry Frazier, Kansas City native Angela Cozart, who had recently graduated from New Orleans' Dillard University, and the family of Dzung thi Nguyen, whose mother, sister and brother arrived here after the storm.

Last week, we called Dzung thi Nguyen at her home in the Northeast for an update on how she and her family are doing. We remembered that almost a year ago, they said they never wanted to go back to New Orleans.

As of last week, 1,442 households in the metro area were still registered with FEMA - some of them have stayed because of family connections to Kansas City. New Orleans native Gloria LaCroix Burns moved here with her husband Kevin Burns in 1995. Two years ago, they opened a restaurant in Westport called LaCroix Creole Bistro (currently closed, Kevin Burns is working in Iraq). Most of their families still lived in Louisiana, and after the hurricane, the Burns found themselves with a full house.

On Tuesday, several local organizations including the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross and Community Christian Church will honor Kansas City's Katrina evacuees and volunteers outside the Gregg Klice Community Center at Parade Park near 18th and Vine at 6pm. The Kansas City New Orleans Cooperative Trio will perform; two of its members are jazz musicians who lived and worked in New Orleans before the storm.

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