Benton, Mo. family providing refuge for relatives running from I - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Benton, Mo. family provides refuge for relatives running from Isaac

The Chatmans decided to make the Heartland their permanent home after Hurricane Katrina ripped through St. Charles Parish, Louisiana seven years ago. The Chatmans decided to make the Heartland their permanent home after Hurricane Katrina ripped through St. Charles Parish, Louisiana seven years ago.
Their house was almost untouched by Katrina, but their community was in shambles. Their house was almost untouched by Katrina, but their community was in shambles.
They wait for news from St. Charles parish where friends and family, including Belinda's parents decided to stay. They wait for news from St. Charles parish where friends and family, including Belinda's parents decided to stay.

BENTON, MO (KFVS) – Hurricane Isaac's path is all too familiar for one family, now living in Benton, Missouri.

The Chatmans decided to make the Heartland their permanent home after Hurricane Katrina ripped through St. Charles Parish, Louisiana seven years ago.

Now the Chatmans say they can't take their eyes off their weather coverage, as they have a house full of relatives who traveled to Scott County from the Gulf to ride out the storm. They all shared memories of the scary day Katrina hit and fears they now have for friends and relatives who decided to ride out Isaac.

"It's a lot of the same feelings," said Belinda Chatman.

"We never experienced a storm that big," said D.J. Chatman.

He is now 20, but was only 13 when Katrina hit. He says he gets a weird feeling now, looking at Isaac's similar path. He remembers deciding it was time to go.

"We just kept going up the interstate and there was so much traffic," said D.J.  

"We got in the car and we left and I just remember coming and worrying about everybody that stayed behind," said Belinda.

From Boutte, Louisiana, Chatman, her husband, and three children eventually made it to Benton.  

"When the Red Cross shelter opened we were first family to check in," said Belinda.

She couldn't believe the love and generosity of the people in southeast Missouri. It stayed with her even when they traveled back to St. Charles Parish to survey the damage.  

"Things just weren't the same," said Belinda. "We tried to go back for about four months."

Their house was almost untouched, but their community was in shambles.  

"We sat down as a family and did a sheet that said cons and pros," said Belinda.  

It didn't take long to make a decision.

"This is home," said Belinda of her home in Benton. "We go back to visit as often as we can but now this is home."

So when Isaac headed toward the Gulf, traveling to Benton was the obvious place of refuge for Belinda's brother and sister-in-law, and their children.

"It was nerve wracking," said Ashley Estay, of Paradis, Louisiana.

They all piled in one car to make the trip.

"Two parents, three kids, and three dogs and a lot of stuff in the back," said Ashley.

Now they all wait together for news from St. Charles parish where friends and family, including Belinda's parents decided to stay.

"They are elderly now," said Belinda. "I am very worried about them. I am worried about flooding. We are praying they are ok. They said the wind is now starting to pick up."

"We are just worried about all our family there," said Belinda's nephew, Percy Estay. "It really reminds us of Katrina."

"I am just thankful to everyone here," Belinda said. "They welcomed us then, and offer us help and comfort even today."

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