Community rallies for former residents uprooted by storm

PORT TOWNSEND — Last Friday, watching pictures of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina that saturated the airwaves, Jordan Smith and her sister-in-law, Erin McNamara, decided to find out how they could help.

Learning that other people were concerned, they organized a meeting at the community center Sunday night to coordinate community resources to help people whose homes and lives had been swept away.

On Saturday, Smith received a call from a former Port Townsend family asking for help.

“We have told them just to get here,” Smith said. “I know people in the community will help out.”

The call came from Kim Ayers, the wife of William Ayers, a former chef at Fort Worden State Park dining hall and Blackberries Restaurant. When the food service contract at the state park went to another company, he and his family returned to his native Louisiana and were living in New Orleans when the hurricane hit.

“Kim said they barely escaped by the grace of God,” Smith said.

From the telephone call, Smith learned that Kim, William and their children, Victoria, 15, and Kayla, 12, managed to crawl through a second-floor window and get a ride in a neighbor’s boat.

Reaching dry land safely, they were able to drive to Shreveport, where they went online to the Port Townsend Leader Web site and saw that the two sisters were organizing the community meeting.

Deciding to head for Port Townsend, the Ayers called the number on the Web site and asked for help starting over.

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