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Far from home, one family ponders the future

NBC's Dawn Fratangelo introduces you to the Lang family, who are living in limbo in Pittsfield, Mass., after fleeing Hurricane Katrina.

It’s daybreak — and only one thing is certain for the Lang family. The morning school bus will arrive. For just about everything else, the Langs are at a loss.

“We don't know when we can go back,” says Dave Lang. “We don't know what kind of damage we have, we don't know about job situation.”

Hurricane damage has disrupted their jobs and lives in New Orleans, so they're living in Pittsfield, Mass. — Jean's hometown —  in a tiny cottage with no heat.

As a kid, Jean spent summers at a cottage owned by her dad. After the hurricane, with no house and little money, it's the only place the family knew to go.

“We live payday to payday,” says Dave, “Like 90 percent of the American people.”

Now this middle-class family is relying, in part, on the government. They did get $2,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 

“At first,” says Dave, “they said that we weren't entitled, and the next thing I knew it was in the checking account.”

“We tried to get food stamps,” adds Jean, “but they said no, because we had assets in New Orleans.”

The community has donated food, clothes and even Catholic school enrollment for daughters Carly and Marcy. 

“Well, people are nice,” says Carly.

“Yeah, everyone's nice,” adds Marcy, “It's just, I just want to go home.”

Back in Louisiana, older brother Jarred — a new college freshman — had to fend for himself.

“I didn't have any food,” he says. “I didn't have any water and my car was broke down and I really didn't have anywhere to go. And I was kind of upset about my family because I didn't know where they were.”

Jarred has has since connected with his family, but staying in touch is hard.

There is good news. He found their house, and it didn't flood. Even the hamster survived. But the water isn't safe, the girls' school isn't open and Jean worries about a job.

“I hate to say it,” explains Jean, “[but] if I can't find work there, I'll have to come here, and that will be hard. That will be hard, but yeah, I'll make it. I just will. You got to.”

The Langs are a family in limbo, far from home.