Mother, Children Together Again

Kathy Phipps was separated from her two children in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The New Orleans woman still didn't know their whereabouts when she was evacuated to Utah.

But strangers there tracked them down for Phipps. They found her children in the convention center in Austin, Texas.

The Early Show's Hattie Kauffman was there for the tearful phone call when Phipps spoke to her children.

She also accompanied Phipps from Salt Lake City to Austin for a reunion arranged by The Early Show.

"Are you ready to go get your kids?" Kauffman asked Phipps in the Salt Lake City airport.

"Yes, I am!" Phipps said.

It was the flight Phipps had been dreaming of.

"Let's go get 'em!" Kauffman said.

Phipps' first flight ever was her evacuation from flood-ravaged New Orleans.

She'd lost her kids in the flooding, and had no idea where they were.

"I decided to walk to the Superdome to look for my kids," she said. "They weren't letting any more people in."

When Phipps got to Utah, volunteers Jim and Barbara Williams were touched by her story. Working the phones, they found Phipps' children.

And Phipps finally got to hear for herself that they were OK.

"I love you so much, Mama's baby, I love you," Phipps sobbed in a phone call

by The Early Show cameras. "Mama's right here. Don't cry. Mama's right here. I'm safe. I'm alive. I'm not dead."

But the call was just the first step. The Early Show bought Phipps a ticket to Texas so she could retrieve her children.

"We know what you went through," Kauffman said to Phipps. "We know you hung from a tree and nearly drowned. But you don't know what they went through?"

"No, I don't," Phipps said.

"So they may have some stories to tell you?"

"Right. I'm ready," Phipps said.

After a day of traveling, her anticipation was overwhelming. She said she'd never been separated from her kids before.

But, at Austin's convention center, there was a bit of confusion.

Finally, eight days after they were separated in the chaos of Katrina,


First, her 8-year-old daughter, Michal.

The two ran toward each other in a long hallway. They embraced tightly, Phipps turning around and around with Michal in her arms, legs off the floor.

Then came her son, 11-year-old Michael.

Another warm hug.

Phipps plans to take them back to Utah to start a new life. Barbara and Jim Williams intend to help her find an apartment and a job.