Helping children evacuees at Camp Gruber adjust to Oklahoma

Wednesday, September 7th 2005, 2:47 pm
By: News On 6

Katrina left thousands of children homeless and volunteers from all over Oklahoma have gathered at Camp Gruber in Muskogee County to try to restore order to the lives of nearly 270 children, left with nothing.

News on 6 anchor Tami Marler visited Camp Gruber on Wednesday and says you would almost never know the children have lost almost everything they've ever known, their homes, their belongings and in some cases, family members.

At a makeshift football field at Camp Gruber, it's as if they haven't a care in the world until you hear what they have to say. "I just want everything to be alright. Hope New Orleans gets back fixed."

They hope their homes can get fixed and they hope their lives can get fixed. Meantime, they do what kids do best. "Let me see. You got your school bands on?" Their wristbands show they'll be going to new schools soon, in a brand new state.

At Camp Gruber they're trying to keep things as normal as possible, especially for the kids. The News on 6 found one set of twins who had an especially momentous day. "Happy birthday to you." Keira Lebanks and her twin sister Teira are celebrating a very special birthday. "Thank you everybody, I'm six." "They knew they were having a birthday, they knew they were supposed to have a party in New Orleans, but they didn't know they were supposed to have a party at Camp Gruber. The twins were with their mother, newborn sister and their aunt Clarissa when the levies broke. "When the flood came we were in the same house. But we didn't live in the same house." The 3 day-old baby got sick inside the Superdome, so the family had to be separated, but a room full of volunteers are trying to make this a birthday Keira and Teira will never forget.

Red Cross officials say 185 people have already left Camp Gruber for a more permanent living arrangement.