16 Katrina evacuees roll into Cincinnati thanks to Bellarmine Chapel and others rescue efforts

More than a dozen Katrina evacuees are now calling Cincinnati home, at least for a while. | September 7, 2005

Three buses which headed to Baton Rouge Tuesday filled with supplies are back. On board, 16 people who survived Hurricane Katrina.

After being held up by a crash on I-71 in Gallatin County, the bus arrived at the temporary Red Cross shelter on Eastern Avenue around 3:00 p.m. Thursday.

The evacuees were staying at a shelter in Baton Rouge, and had evacuated New Orleans before the storm hit. All 16 evacuees - six children and ten adults - registered at the Red Cross shelter upon arrival and will be served dinner.

None will actually stay at the local Red Cross shelter set up to house evacuees; instead, they will stay with local families. Stephanie Beck Borden, director of social mission at Bellarmine Chapel on Xavier’s campus, is working with local churches, including the World Outreach Christian Church, to find places for all the evacuees to stay.

One of the evacuees is several months pregnant. She also has a son who turned one-year-old today. Beck Borden says the child received balloons and a birthday cake.

According to WCPO-TV, several of the evacuees are heading to Minneapolis. It’s not clear how many of the other survivors will be moving on or will choose to stay in the Tri-State.

The relief effort started Sunday with an appeal from Herb and Barb Smitherman, parents of Cincinnati City Councilman Christopher Smitherman. The family had chartered a bus and asked parishioners to donate supplies. Thanks to the generosity of the Bellarmine parish, another bus was chartered and both vehicles were soon filled with items. In call, Bellarmine parish has raised $10,000 for hurricane relief.

WDBZ-AM heard of the endeavor and offered a third bus. The Buzz’s Jeri Tolliver, Jay Love and Wayne “Box” Miller went to Baton Rouge along with Councilman Smitherman.

Also along on the trip were Jim Crosby, director of religious education at Bellarmine and Maryann Kokenge, a nurse who attends Bellarmine. Crosby is also the chaplain for the Blue Ash Fire Department and an EMT.