Katrina victims get help, need more

KINGMAN ­ A Louisiana family of six that fled from Hurricane Katrina and wound up stuck in Kingman after their car broke down Thursday is getting help, but more is needed.

"We've paid for their room (at the Comfort Inn) through Tuesday," Dan Emborsky, treasurer of the Kingman Powerhouse Kiwanis, said Monday.

"On Friday, we got them medications they needed, and member Marcia Beechum took them shopping at Kmart, where we paid for about $700 in clothes."

"We've also contacted John Salem (owner of Salem & Sons Automotive). I believe he'll donate his time in repairing their engine, but it's going to take about $2,500 (to cover the cost of parts) to get them on their way again."

The family includes Cassie Stein; her sister, Clovina; brother-in-law, Frank Tomaso; aunt, Marie Lee; and Cassie's children, Charlie Marie Cosse, 2, and Nicholas Cosse, 6 months. They carried a few possessions through waist-deep floodwaters containing dead bodies, feces, snakes and large rats to reach higher ground from which they could leave in a caravan of three vehicles.

They reached Lafayette, La., in a 1999 Mitsubishi Montero SUV owned by Christine McDonald, a bartender at the Fairmont Hotel in New Orleans, where Cassie works as a cocktail waitress. McDonald loaned her vehicle to the family so they could travel to Los Angeles to stay with relatives. McDonald and her son rode with another Fairmont employee to Dallas, where she is staying with a sister.

Stein and her family spent their last $50 on gas in Seligman. The SUV broke down about five miles west of there on Interstate 40 and they were towed to Kingman.

As word of their plight spread Thursday, the Mohave County Department of Public Health and Kingman Regional Medical Center immediately stepped forward with assistance.

The health department delivered a high-back booster seat for the older child and a convertible seat for the baby.

A hospital representative delivered baby clothes, formula and toiletries.

"The Comfort Inn also is helping the family with food and by cutting the price of their room," Emborsky said.

Stein is humbled and gratified by the community outpouring of help.

"If I could find a Kingman flag, I'd fly it," she said Monday.

"The people here have helped with clothes, diapers, makeup, everything we could need. I feel like my whole family has been adopted."

Stein added local residents Tony and Deborah Santos contacted them over the weekend. The couple loaned the family their Chevrolet Yukon vehicle Sunday so they could get out of the motel for a while.

They drove up to the Hualapai Mountains.

"I took a picture of Kingman from up there, so I can blow it up, put it on my wall when we get home and say, 'Those are the wonderful people who rescued us.'"

Anyone wishing to help the family may call Emborsky at 279-6358.