Video: Child victims of hurricane put on brave face

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 9/5/2005 7:42:04 PM ET 2005-09-05T23:42:04

BATON ROUGE, La. — For hundreds of families devastated by Katrina, what's lost is not just the home you worked for all your life: what's still missing after all these days is a son or daughter swept up by the rescues or separated by the evacuations. Reuniting families these days is a full-time job.

They are the most justifiable tears. Demarco Robinson, 4 years old, was separated from his parents while being rescued from New Orleans. A little boy with asthma, he’s now living in a shelter with seven other children -- all hoping their parents will find them.

"There was a 14-month-old, there was a 4-month-old, I mean, just babies," says Judith Campbell.

She is a volunteer here. She is also my cousin. And she urged us to bring a camera and put these children’s faces on television so a relative might see them.

The work here is taking an emotional toll.

"You can't imagine," she says, crying. "There was a 14 month old, and I have one, and I can't imagine. I just need to find their parents."

The older children are putting on brave faces, but it is so tough.

Some teenagers we met were rescued by chopper. Their parents stayed behind. They made their way out of New Orleans and spent a frightening night alone.

"One night we had to sleep in the grass," says one of them. "And it was muddy and stuff, and it started raining and stuff, and getting bit by mosquitoes, and it was freezing outside."

There are similar stories at shelters around the country. Bulletin boards are filled with messages from anxious parents trying to find their children.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is trying to organize the process, taking pictures of the kids and creating a central database.

"We're very dependant upon the media to help us and it's really an important thing to us to get the information out on how to contact us," says Mike Allen from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The results seem promising. Sunday night at the San Antonio airport, parents who hadn’t seen their children since they were separated in a rescue were finally reunited. It’s a happy ending that will hopefully be repeated in the weeks to come.

To look for lost children, you can log onto www.missingkids.com or call 1-800-The Lost.

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