Hurricane Katrina Evacuee Makes East Texas Home

It didn't take long for one Hurricane Katrina evacuee to make East Texas home. Just 12 days after the storm hit New Orleans, Jeffrey Fyffe moved into a house in Jacksonville. Now a year later, he's getting ready to open a new business, and he's using his success to help another Katrina evacuee family.   Living on the Gulf Coast most of his life, Fyffe says he knew he had to evacuate.

"I woke up that Saturday night, proceeding the storm and it was about 2 o'clock and the guy on Channel 4, and I always listen to him, said it was time to get out," said Jeffrey Fyffe, Katrina evacuee. "That's when Jeffrey says he gathered his friends and employees and headed to East Texas.

"It took 25 hours to drive to Jacksonville from New Orleans," said Fyffe. "Bumper to bumper traffic. It was just, it was terrible."   When he finally got to Jacksonville and watched the news, Fyffe says things started to sink in. In New Orleans Fyffe had his own cabling business and knew he could not go back.

"Hurricane Fredrick came into Mobile in 1979, and I had a business there, a cabling business for the cable company and power was knocked out 5 months, so I lived through that and said I would never do that again."   Through HOPE, an organization that helps those less fortunate, Fyffe was able to get back on his two feet. He bought a house and began finding work through local churches and businesses.

"I've made a living, but it wasn't the income I had in New Orleans, so in February I kind of re-invented myself," said Fyffe.  That's when Fyffe came up with Jeffrey's Zone.

"What we are going to see in Jacksonville is an entertainment venue, internet cafe and cyber gaming all in one facility," said Fyffe. "Something new, and I recognized there is no where for the young adults to go here."   This past year has not gone as well for Steve Redler and his family, who moved to Jacksonville after Katrina.

"Real rough, real rough," said Steve Redler, Katrina Evacuee. "We had worked over at the crisis center and they let me go and my wife had broken her arm, and she hadn't been working since." Then, Redler met Fyffe.

"When I had found out Jeffrey was hiring some people, I said I'll work for you, so hopefully things will start to look better." Together, two Katrina evacuees, who never imagined they would ever live in East Texas, are trying to prove it is possible to re-start your life.

Both Fyffe and Redler say the main reason they stayed in East Texas is because of the generosity and love they got from the people. Fyffe says Jeffrey's Zone will have it's grand opening in the middle of September.

Molly Reuter, reporting.