Hurricane family wait for news

ANXIOUS relatives of an Ipswich woman caught up in Hurricane Katrina are desperately waiting to hear from her today.Mary Kramer and her husband, William, work as nurses in hospitals in Biloxi, Mississippi, which took the brunt of the devastating storm.

ANXIOUS relatives of an Ipswich woman caught up in Hurricane Katrina are desperately waiting to hear from her today.

Mary Kramer and her husband, William, work as nurses in hospitals in Biloxi, Mississippi, which took the brunt of the devastating storm.

As anger, despair and anarchy sweep through New Orleans and the other affected towns and cities today, Mrs Kramer's sister, Patricia Smith and her husband Anthony, of Worcester Road, Ipswich, are worried the couple have lost everything.

Although the Smiths believe Mr and Mrs Kramer would have survived the hurricane because they would have been called into work, their anguish is growing after seeing Biloxi almost destroyed in the storm which is now likely to have left thousands dead.

Mr Smith, a 69-year-old retired brewery worker, said: “We have phoned, but you don't get anything. They have had hurricanes before and they have phoned us within a day or so, but now we have not heard a thing. My daughter and several friends have all tried to get through via the computer, but all the telecommunications are down.

“I feel like I want to be over there helping them, but I can't. It's heartbreaking. When you saw Biloxi on the television nine out of ten houses were flattened.”

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Mrs Kramer, 55, who emigrated to America 15 years ago, bought a new bungalow with her husband just half a mile from the seafront less than 12 months ago. Their family now fear it could just be a pile of rubble.

Mrs Smith, 67, said: “I know as soon as this happened they would have had to go to work and would live in the basement of the hospital, unroll a mattress and stay there until all this is over.

“Mary will be absolutely tired out and worried about her property. It's terrible. After what we have seen over there, you can't imagine what it's like now.”

Biloxi, is a waterfront town of about 50,000 people which relies heavily on tourism and its gambling industry. It's feared hundreds of people have died in Biloxi alone.

Mrs Kramer, who previously lived in Platter's Close, Ipswich, met her husband when he was a captain in the USAF at Lakenheath.

When they moved to the United States Mrs Kramer, who had worked at the tax office in Ipswich, retrained to be a nurse. She now works at the main hospital in Biloxi, while Mr Kramer is a psychiatric nurse at the town's Veterans' Hospital.

Originally Mr and Mrs Smith thought her sister and brother-in-law would miss the worst of the hurricane as forecasters said the epicentre would hit elsewhere.

However they were shocked to see the images of homes destroyed and the human suffering which it has left behind.

Mr Smith said: “We have been there about eight times and have recognised several places. It's a lovely place. The beaches were pure white as far as you could see. It was beautiful.”

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