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At home in New Castle

Editor’s note: This is a three-part series on the town of New Castle’s effort to help victims of Katrina Hurricane. Three families came to New Castle after the hurricane. Two have remained and are now part of the community. Parts two and three will appear on Monday and Tuesday.NEW CASTLE – Two Hurricane Katrina families are “extremely grateful” for the relief efforts they’ve received from the town of New Castle and are doing well as they integrate into the community.Five months into the aftermath of Katrina – which devastated the central Gulf Coast – two of three families sponsored by the town are still here and thriving.Following the Aug. 29 hurricane, town officials asked themselves what they could do to help families seeking to relocate and start their lives over.”Right after the hurricane, (councilor) Bob Gordon mentioned at one of the council meetings that he’d like to see the town do something to assist Hurricane Katrina victims,” said Town Administrator Steve Rippy. Town officials came up with the idea of sponsoring a few families to help them get back on their feet.”We got in touch with an agency called the Southwest Colorado Hurricane Relief Effort,” Rippy said. “The group was making several trips to the Dallas area and visiting with people who wanted to relocate to Colorado. New Castle had wanted to sponsor three families.”The town was initially provided with the name of the Prince family – a husband and wife with seven children.Later, town officials were given the name of the McNabb family, who had already come up to the area and were staying with family members in Silt.”The name of the Henderson family – who were also already in Silt staying with family members – was given to us,” Rippy said.While Rippy found places in New Castle for the families to live, Robin Burkett, administrative assistant for the town of New Castle, was responsible for getting them set up with furniture and supplies. The town had agreed to pay for three month’s rent for each of the sponsored families, with the understanding the remainder of the year’s rent would be paid by FEMA.Burkett received donations and gifts from area businesses and private community members to help furnish the homes and get the families started.”I knew they needed everything in their homes and I contacted the churches, community organizations and businesses,” Burkett said.Donations of cash, food coupon cards, gift certificates, furniture, bedding, pillows, blankets, appliances and more were received from the community.Contributors included the First Baptist Church in New Castle; St. John’s Episcopal Church in New Castle; New Hope Church in New Castle; Warehouse Furniture & Bedding in Glenwood Springs; the Jim Lord Agency – American Family Insurance in Glenwood Springs; Dunlaps in Glenwood Springs; the Sleep Shop in Glenwood Springs; Catholic Charities; City Market in New Castle; Kmart in Glenwood Springs; Defiance Thrift Store and LIFT-UP; and private citizens.”The Princes came first, and I had about two weeks before they arrived,” Burkett recalled. “I just started calling and asking for info and got more names to contact, which started the ball rolling.”Kristy and Richard McNabb, and their 15-year-old son, John, who had been staying at Richard’s sister’s home in Silt, came next.Connie and Harley Henderson and their 11-year-old son, Dillon, came next. The Hendersons had also been staying with family members in Silt.Set-up services for cable television, phone and power were provided by Comcast Cable, Qwest and Xcel Energy free of charge.The Prince family left the area after three months, but the McNabbs and Hendersons are still here and thriving in the community.”They’re so very grateful and humble and strong after everything they’ve gone through and what they’ve endured,” Burkett said. “I have a lot of respect for them.”When Burkett showed up at the door with items for the Hendersons, she said Connie Henderson burst into tears.”They couldn’t believe what had been provided and given to them,” Burkett said. “They were unbelievably grateful.”Burkett said both families are now doing very well.”They love the community and the people in the community,” she said. “They didn’t realize that people who knew nothing of them would give so much of themselves.”Rippy is also proud of the community and the town’s efforts in helping the victims.”The town did a very positive thing,” he said.


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