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Katrina's refugees

Hundreds of thousands of people from Lousiana, Mississippi and Alabama are on the road or in crowded refugee centers.  It's the kind of mass migration we don't expect to see in America.  Some now estimate that three-quarters of a million Americans are on the move tonight.
/ Source: Dateline NBC

Hundreds of thousands of people from Lousiana, Mississippi and Alabama are on the road or in crowded refugee centers.  It's the kind of mass migration we don't expect to see in America.  Some now estimate that three-quarters of a million Americans are on the move tonight.

Those lucky enough to have escaped Katrina are now finding that hotels are booked from Texas to Florida. Pick almost any hotel and you will find refugees inside, stuck between their ruined homes and their very uncertain futures.

Scott Brady lost a million dollar beachfront home and business in Long Beach, Mississippi. He is now living in the Econolodge for $44 a night.

And to make matters worse gasoline now is increasingly scarce— many stations are already empty.

In Mobile, Ala., gas station employee Sheretta Rowland had the tough job of breaking the bad news to customers already running on fumes. “There’s no more gas,” she said. “Tomorrow for sure,” she promises.

Police now guard many area gas stations, and police themselves have private resources but they too, are concerned about running out of gas.

On Interstate-10 in Mississippi today, motorists have simply pulled over to wait in a gas line almost two miles long. Many have run out of gas and they will push their cars almost a mile to the station. Derrick Purit is trying to get to his son who is with relatives— he has been on the gas queue for six hours. “The only thing that bothers me is my little boy. I have to pick him up and take him to another school,” he says.

Stores within a hundred miles of the disaster area are running short or out of supplies. Since Katrina, almost everything has run out. Power outages have forced stores to throw away perishable meat, eggs, and milk.

While there is nothing to go back to for thousands, they are too unsettled to leave completely. There are still family or freinds unaccounted for. And while most are truly grateful to have escaped with their lives, they now realize their lives will look like nothing they remember. They cannot go back.

So they will go forward. But many, like Cheryl Griffith, have no idea where that might be. “We’ve done our crying, and we know we can’t live like this for the next 3 to 6 months. That’s impossible,” she says.