By Mike Brunker West Coast news editor
updated 8/28/2006 6:39:43 AM ET 2006-08-28T10:39:43

Andre Dunn, 38, married owner of an insured house worth approximately $150,000 on Urquhart Street, in the Seventh Ward of New Orleans.

For Andre Dunn and his family, the upheaval that Katrina’s passage through New Orleans injected into their lives is easing now that they have moved into what they hope will be their new permanent home.

“The house is nice; it’s got a master bedroom, upstairs and downstairs and a nice backyard,” Dunn says of the house in Lawrenceville, Ga., about 30 miles northeast of Atlanta, where he, his wife, Trenell, and 10 kids and grandkids have been living since mid-November. “All the kids are in school except for one grandson at home. Everybody’s doing their thing and it’s coming out pretty well.”

As for Lawrenceville, “It’s nice and quiet, everybody goes to work, goes to church. It’s perfect.”

The Dunn clan — diminished from the original 16 who fled New Orleans when two daughters and their children left to seek housing elsewhere — are among the Katrina outcasts who don’t plan to return to their former homes and instead are embarking on a new life in an unknown town.

Emergency aid from FEMA
To get back on their feet, they have relied on the government – FEMA has put them up in a hotel for a time and provided them with more than $4,000 in emergency aid, money they used as a downpayment on the house — and charity; they were given a van by the Victory Reach Church so that Dunn wouldn’t have to drive his family around in the back of his pickup during the cold Georgia winter.

But while Dunn said he appreciates the largesse, it hasn’t erased the uncertainty from his life.

He hasn’t yet been able to find work nearby and still has no idea how much money – if any – he will receive for the “shotgun-style” home he owned in New Orleans' 7th Ward. Without money coming in, he won’t be able to afford the mortgage payments on his new home.

The lifelong New Orleans resident recently returned to the city for a first look at his old house, which was flooded to the eaves when Katrina punched holes in the city’s levees, and was depressed by what he saw.

‘It's a ghost town’
“It’s full of mold and unstable,” he said. “And there were no lights on anywhere; it’s a ghost town.”

Now he’s waiting to learn whether he will receive any money from his minimal mortgage insurance policy, which guarantees only that the bank gets repaid the outstanding amount of the loan. The adjuster has promised him an answer within the next several weeks.

But that look at his old house underlined his resolve to start a new life somewhere else.

Asked if he misses New Orleans, Dunn responded with his trademark booming laugh and said, “Nah, just the memories and used-to-be things.”

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