‘This is Carson City at its best’
Appeal Staff Writer
Linette and Keith Robinson left their New Orleans home with his computer, some clothing and two albums filled with wedding pictures and photos of their three children. After driving for three days they arrived at a newly furnished house in Carson City, a place they will call home for up to six months.
The two framed photos of Keith Jr., 7, and Keaira, 4, sit on top of the coffee table beside the New Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible and the aptly titled book “Lord, Where are You When Bad Things Happen?”
For the Robinsons, God isn’t far away.
Keith, 32, is a surveillance agent at the Horizon Casino Resort. Linette, 27, works in the casino’s finance department. They were employees on the Belle of Orleans, which the company had recently purchased, before it sank.
The Robinsons came to work in Lake Tahoe about three weeks ago on the invitation of Keith’s boss Glenn King.
They said the generosity of Friends in Service Helping and Katrina’s Hope, two local nonprofit groups, has provided for their needs.
They went back to New Orleans last week to retrieve some belongings and when they returned at 3 a.m. Tuesday, they found a house outfitted for three children, including 9-month-old Aaron (named after the Saints’ quarterback).
A donated Dodge Intrepid was parked in the driveway and Keaira and Keith Jr. now play football in a front yard three times the size of that of their rented townhouse in New Orleans.
Keith Robinson opened up a cupboard in the kitchen so full of food that it looked as if the boxes and cans could spill out onto the floor. And on Wednesday afternoon the DirecTV was installed – just the thing Robinson needs to watch the Saints games on the TV donated by FISH.
This is the Robinsons’ reality, one that they never expected. Nevada wasn’t even on their list of places to someday visit.
“So where did you guys move from?” the DirecTV guy asked Robinson in the hallway of the home, which is in the Stewart Indian Colony. The free rent for this home was also provided by FISH.
“New Orleans,” Robinson answered.
Keith Jr. may get a similar response today when he begins second grade at Seeliger Elementary School, but then again, children react differently to disasters. Robinson said his children don’t understand that Hurricane Katrina was one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit the Gulf Coast.
“They don’t know the reality of what is going on,” he said while cradling Aaron. “They know there was a hurricane and a flood but they don’t know the impact.”
During their trip back, they found their New Orleans neighborhood was flooded with about three feet of water. The family evacuated before Hurricane Katrina hit in late August.
“It was disheartening to see your neighborhood,” Robinson said. “It looks like a ghost town. It looks like someone just dropped a bomb there.”
The couple has an open mind about staying in the area. Linette said the people are kind and the scenery is beautiful. Housing is much more expensive, which is their major barrier. They’ve never lived near mountains or snow – so their minds could be made up by winter’s end. Driving through the Sierra Nevada at night was a frightening experience even at 5 mph, he said.
Linette said they still need to find day care for Aaron and Keaira because she works the day shift and his schedule still varies.
Carson City is a long way from New Orleans, whether that’s geographically or culturally. Robinson said he made sure to get his hair cut in New Orleans before they returned with the children. He doesn’t know of a black barber shop in the area.
But they’re grateful for the locals who’ve helped them and their employers.
“This is Carson City at its best,” said FISH Executive Director Monte Fast. “In this town if there is something that should be done and the people find out about it, they will do it.”
n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.