104-Member Clan Evacuates As One

big family CBS

Many people affected by Hurricane Katrina have been separated from loved ones and haven't heard from them in days.

In Lafayette, La., however, four generations of a single family have managed to weather the storm together.

Reporter Nicole Murray, from CBS station KLFY in Lafayette, has the story of the Zimmerman clan.

"We have 104.95 people," evacuee Susan Zimmerman says. "The point-95 is a cousin who is nine months pregnant."

No nametags are needed for this group, however.

"Absolutely not! We know everyone by name," she says. "We are together a lot."

The Zimmermans and their kin are all from the greater New Orleans area and were forced from their homes last week just before Hurricane Katrina roared through the Gulf Coast.

All 104 family members not only kept in touch during a time when cell phone coverage is spotty, they even managed to book 23 rooms at the Lafayette Hilton, where the entire clan is currently taking up residence.

"I just took the opportunity to go online to make reservations because I know wherever we went we had to be together," Zimmerman says.

So is traveling in a pack good for the soul?

"We love it. We are always together," family member Auerey Hyer says.

If you think the sheer number of people is incredible, there's also the Noah's Ark that is traveling with them — three cats, 13 dogs and six birds. This family is incredibly well organized, too. They even have a veterinarian in the family.

"I have never seen so many dogs, cats — you name it — in this lobby!" family member Betty O'Brian says. "But it is keeping us entertained and helps us realize life will go on."

All kidding aside, the family is hoping they have something to go home to. Every morning, the entire clan gets together in the lobby to pray.

"We love each other, but the glue that is keeping us together is our faith," family member Rosie Denny says. "We have pulled together. We talk together. We cry together."

They even sing "God Bless New Orleans" together.
  • Michelle Singer

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