Video: Katrina family survives through love

By Rehema Ellis Correspondent
NBC News
updated 10/6/2005 1:19:40 PM ET 2005-10-06T17:19:40

BATON ROUGE, La. — So often young people at college worry about fitting in. But Christina Gerica, a sophomore at Louisiana State University thinks about it every day — fitting into her apartment, that is.

It's cramped quarters in her tiny, two-bedroom place with one small kitchen and one bathroom for six adults. That's right, six adults: Christina, her mother, her father, aunt, uncle, roommate and a dog all live here.

"I like having them around, but this close is a little uncomfortable," says Christina. "But nothing I can't handle."

If Christina's thought about bringing home friends, forget it. With an air mattress in the dining room, a chain saw in the living and boxes of papers — from her parents' East New Orleans' home — it's tight.

But no one seems to mind.

"Don't get me wrong," says Christina's mom Clara, "I would love to have a whole bed for one night to myself, but other than that? No. No. We're alive."

That's no small accomplishment. The night of the storm their home caved in on them and the family was separated in rising flood waters.

"I figured I had to find some bodies and bury them, 'cause I figured I lost everybody," says Clara.

But, with the storm raging, Peter, a fisherman, managed to round up the rest of the family and tied them to a tree.

"Just like raccoons," laughs Peter. "We were hanging in the tree like a bunch of raccoons."

Mom and dad promise their daughter she'll have her freedom back soon, but for now they're alive, and together, and that's what counts.

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