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Bertie aids Katrina victims

WINDSOR – Bertie County is reaching out to a family displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

During last week's Bertie Board of Commissioners meeting, the county's elected leaders listened to a presentation made by Lillian Harden of Windsor in regards to the family – Stuart Breland, 24, and Amy Longfoot, 25, along with the couple's 7-month-old son, Alexander Breland.

The family recently relocated to northeastern North Carolina after losing everything to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

They formally resided in Biloxi, Mississippi, living approximately one-half mile from the Gulf of Mexico. They were informed by authorities there that their two-story townhouse is now just a shell.

"At some point in the future, they wish to go back to Biloxi to see if anything from their home can be saved," Harden told the Commissioners. "However, they have been told that their home will probably be bulldozed and hauled away due to 26 feet of water damage.

Meanwhile, the couple has been staying at a Williamston motel with the aid of FEMA rental assistance.

"I have been working with them in seeking adequate and affordable housing with no success," Harden said.

Harden told the Commissioners that Stuart Breland's father works at the Bertie County Landfill and has gotten his son a job there.

Amy Longfoot will be staying at home with the baby.

"This is an excellent opportunity for the Bertie County communities to help this family out," Zee Lamb, County Manager, said.

Following a brief discussion, the Commissioners voted unanimously to allow the family to reside, rent free, in the Phelps house, property owned by the county. The terms of the agreement are for six months, effective Sept. 20.

"It's a dreadful sight there along the Gulf Coast," Rick Harrell, Chairman of the Commissioners, noted. "With this family now here in our area, it makes what happened in Mississippi and Louisiana personal to us. We're just glad we could do something to help out."

In a related matter, Harden pointed out another local effort to help the family.

"I have also contacted area churches and individual citizens, requesting assistance with furnishings and household needs for this family," Harden said.

Members of the Green's Cross Baptist Church Women's Missionary Union responded, urging community members to help in assisting the couple through this terrible time. The couple needs all of the essential items.

Churches across the county are working to get the couple several larger items that they may need.

Green's Cross Baptist Church Women's Missionary Union is asking for the following items for this family:

Clothing for Stuart (pants: size 40w, 32 length; shirts: XXL); Amy (pants: size 20; shirts: size XL) baby Alexander: (age – 7 months; weight – 19 lbs.).

The couple also needs Enfamil Lactose Free, a crib with sheets and bedding, a walker, paper products for kitchen and bathroom, refrigerator, box springs for double bed, car seat large enough for a 19 lb, 7-month-old, diapers and baby wipes.

Stuart has transportation to and from work, but will eventually need a vehicle for the family.

Cash donations will also be accepted.

Items can be donated by contacting Harden at Lawrence Memorial Library in Windsor after 1 p.m. at 794-2244 or at home at 794-3717.