Ashley Hood is a 10-year-old girl beginning a new life. After Hurricane Katrina destroyed her family's home in Bay St. Louis, Miss., parents Shawn and Becky decided that their family's best chance for a future would be to settle in Shawn's hometown of Marshall, Mo.
Three weeks into their arrival, Ashley is still the new kid on the block, but there's a sense that some normalcy is returning. With every friend she makes at school, every skip of her jumping rope, and every flashed smile, hope is spreading that everything will be okay.
The desire to get Ashley back into a regular routine as swiftly as possible was first priority for the Hoods, they said. The family was living in the Kansas City, Mo. area for over a decade before moving to Mississippi. Five months later, Katrina hit.
"We had planned to go back up to Kansas City, but on the way up there, there was just something that said Marshall was where I needed to be," Shawn said.
The Hoods are rebuilding their lives with help from family and community donations. Shawn and Becky look for work while Ashley works her multiplication tables and spelling.
While Shawn and Becky are still uncertain about what the future may bring, watching Ashley regain her rhythm is enough to keep spirits up, they said.