Havre Daily News
Hope on the Hi-Line remains for a relocated Hurricane Katrina victim and her son.
“I'm not new here anymore and everyone is still so nice to me everywhere I go,” Edna Coleman said Monday. “It's a wonderful feeling.”
Coleman and her 1-year-old son, Na'Sean, moved to Havre in September after their Mississippi apartment was flooded. The Colemans traveled north with the aid of Hope on the Hi-Line, a local group formed to help hurricane victims relocate to north-central Montana, and Edna's brother and sister-in-law, who live in Havre.
Coleman said she has been doing well with financial help of Hope on the Hi-Line, the guidance of her host family - the Vaanderings of Gildford - and free housing courtesy of Montana State University-Northern. She said she still receives funding from a local church and Hope on the Hi-Line.
“These are gifts I am receiving and I am grateful,” Coleman said.
She said her neighbors give her hand-me-down clothing from their children's closets for her son.
The new Havreites will continue to live at MSU-N family housing until May. In the meantime, Coleman hopes to pay off old student loans so she can enroll at Northern and remain in her apartment.
If she does not become a student, the housing department will, “assist in any relocation if need be,” said MSU-N director of housing Chancy Ringer.
Coleman and her son were living in Pascagoula, Miss., when Katrina hit, filling their apartment with waist-high water and caving in part of the roof.
Coleman said she has been sick on and off since she moved here. She attributes the first couple bouts to toxins she encountered during the flooding and thinks the last few colds have been her body adjusting to a new climate.
“I've been doing good. I can't complain,” she said. “I've just been taking care of this boy.”
Coleman said her son, who arrived in Havre with an ear infection, is doing well.
She said she is in the process of having his medical records sent up north. She said she plans to get ajob after she receives the records and gets him situated in day care.
She purchased a car with money from Hope on the Hi-Line. After the flooding, her vehicle in Mississippi was found flipped over and blocks away from where she had parked it.
Some of Hope on the Hi-Line's remaining funds were split between Coleman and two other Katrina victims - Melissa Richardson and her 16-year-old daughter, Rose Richardson - who temporarily relocated to Chinook with the help of the group and Chinook Alliance Church. The church furnished and paid the rent for their two-bedroom apartment.
The Richardsons returned to the Gulf Coast around the first of the year after hearing about new housing available in Mississippi, Coleman said.
Coleman said she received a call from Melissa Richardson about two weeks ago and that the Richardsons were awaiting the building of a house.
Coleman said she is adjusting well to her new surroundings but is afraid of winter driving in Havre.
“I've tried driving on the snow but it doesn't work well,” Coleman said. “They say it's OK once you get to the main roads, but I am nervous to get to the main roads.”