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Hurricane Katrina Survivors Hold Prayer Service In Fort Smith

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Ten years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf coast, many survivors are still living in Arkansas after they relocated following the deadly storm.

Some of those people gathered Saturday (August 29) to host prayer services at the Executive Hotel at City Center in Fort Smith.

Clayashbie Williams and her son were forced to flee New Orleans.

“They were crying, not knowing what was going on,” Williams said. “I did not know where my child's father was because they had been trapped.”

She said after they evacuated, she expected to returned home not too long afterwards.

“Originally we just thought we would be gone three days, four days, a week, two weeks tops,” Williams said. “We had three changes of clothes besides what we had on.”

Ten years later Williams and her son still have not returned to New Orleans.

“When the president said, ‘Wherever you are, put your child in school,’ I said, ‘Oh my God, it is serious,’” Williams said.

Fort Smith is where Williams found her new home and after settling down, she did not want to leave.

“I did not have much even after a couple of years, but people came here, and it was clothes, it was furniture, it was places to worship,” Williams said.

Williams said that worship continued Saturday as she and other victims came together to pray for all those who are still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Katrina and those who did not survive the storm.

“The Word always says that we should be one and with one accord together and that is what we are, we are all together,” Williams said.

Tommy Todd and his wife, Brenda, who had friends and family that were victims of the hurricane, led the prayer service.

“Some of them died," Tommy said. "Some of them were relocated to different parts of the country."

They said their mission is to help victims move forward.

“It is a really awesome experience for us to encourage them in any way that we can to let them know that God is able to restore back to you even in a greater measure than what you had before,” Tommy said.

Williams said in the midst of the storm and even now years later she clings to her faith.

“That is what we held onto that God is a sustainer, and that is what he did. He sustained us,” Williams said.