Families relieved for reunions after hurricane

Ardith Satterwhite was in awe when she heard her daughter, Evelyn Council, describe being in the eye of Hurricane Katrina for 14 hours.

Although the breadth of the storm is overwhelming, Satterwhite was just happy to hear her daughter's voice. It had been more than a week since the hurricane hit Council's hometown of Diberville, Miss., and Satterwhite didn't know where her daughter was or whether she survived.

Council made it through Katrina sheltering at the Dominoes Pizza store she's worked at for 27 years. She now manages the store.

On Thursday, she opened the store to give away food.

"She stayed there because it was supposed to be a storm-safe building. I guess it was," Satterwhite said.

Satterwhite said she's spent many sleepless nights next to the telephone and in front of the television hoping for news.

Her grandson, Joseph Council, lives in St. Louis and she hadn't heard from him, either.

Satterwhite's sister, who lives in Iowa, first made the connection.

"She got on the computer and asked if anyone knew where they are," she said. "There was nothing you could do because the communication was so poor."

One of Joseph's in-laws replied.

An hour later, Council called. Satterwhite told her daughter that her son was alive. Her sister told Joseph his mother had survived.

Betty Switzler got similar news but didn't have to wait as long as Satterwhite did, nor was the method as indirect.

A friend of Switzler's son called early this week and told her the family was fine.

She since has been able to hear that for herself as phone service is slowly restored.

"They're alive, and they're well," she said.

Her son, Alan, lives in Picayune, Miss., with his wife and their four children.

Food rations, water and ice are available in the small town of Picayune, and Alan was able to purchase a generator.

"It's unbearably hot and miserable down there, but they have been lucky and they feel blessed," Switzler said.

The family took shelter in a church where they worked through the night helping other refugees -- most of whom were elderly.

"I asked him why he decided to go to the shelter and he said, 'there was a need," Switzler said.

The family returned to their home to find it intact, though the fence was gone and many of the trees were down.

"They're doing better than most, but it still isn't fun," Switzler said. "They sound good. They sound hopeful."

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