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School Board Member helps Lake Charles evacuee with new beginning

Posted at 6:34 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 20:14:18-04

A Lake Charles family is on the road to new beginnings following a crash in Lafayette Tuesday afternoon.

The evacuees were loaded up with all of their belongings in their car and were ready to start fresh in Pensacola, Florida. That's until the crash.

It happened Tuesday afternoon at the intersection of University and Lee Avenue. The single mother of two was on her way to an appointment when she hit a utility pole and traffic light. The light briefly trapped Lafayette Parish School Board Member Hannah Mason in her SUV.

It's what happened once those involved in the crash began talking that is now impacting how they're moving forward.

Kari Kahn and her family are now forced to start over following Hurricanes Laura and Delta. The single mother's apartment was destroyed during the storms.

"After a couple of days, everything started coming down," Kahn said. "The top roof of my apartment completely came off and eventually, everything came down."

Kahn, her six-year-old daughter Lizzie, and her three-week-old baby Nova bouncing between family and friends until they could call somewhere home.

"I never ever had to even think like no shelter or electricity. Momma worked, but COVID-19, being pregnant, everything. It was out of my hands and obviously someone else took over, thank God," Kahn said.

Up until the crash, she thought she was moving to Florida.

"I didn't want to go that far away, especially because her dad, our family," Kahn said.

Lafayette Parish School Board Member Hannah Smith Mason said, "It makes me so emotional to think about, here I am worried about my car and someone bumped into me and they don't have the basic needs. The shelter, the food and for a child, school."

Kahn said, "It's such a blessing. I didn't think a crash that I caused could bring such a blessing to me and my children."

Mason is rallying behind Kahn, making sure her family has somewhere to stay and are taken care of. As a board member, she knew this family needs stability and to get Lizzie back in class.

"It is the foundation of everything we do and building the future of our community," Mason said. "Education is so important."

Mason helped the Kahn family enroll in Lafayette Parish Schools and made sure Lizzie has the tools she needs, including supplies, uniforms and even picking out a few educational games and books.

When asked what her favorite subject is, Lizzie said, "learning."

Now that she is enrolled, Mom is looking forward to finding permanent housing and to get her daughter into a routine.

"Praise you Jesus, she's here! She gets to go! She thrives! She loves school and for first grade, she's a great reader," Kahn said.

Mason said, "I'm glad that she bumped into me. I'm glad that God put me there and that our community is so understanding and willing to help no matter what kind of path our Hurricane victims have blown into town with. Lafayette and our community will be even stronger after all of this."

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the Kahn family.

Community partners like the United Way of Acadiana and Beacon Community Connections are also helping Kahn and her family with resources such as baby supplies and housing. These organizations are also helping other people impacted by Hurricanes Laura and Delta.

Nicole Zirlott with Beacon Community Connections said, "It can be so overwhelming to deal with so many things at once and to have agencies working with you to take a little weight of your shoulders and to prioritize the best things to do at the time helps dramatically."

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