DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Debbie Elliott.
After Hurricane Katrina hit last August, close to 5,000 children were reported missing. On this Christmas Eve we wanted to get an update on them, so we called Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He's charged with reuniting Katrina victims.
Mr. ERNIE ALLEN (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children): We had a mom in Texas who'd been separated from her seven-year-old daughter at the time of the storm; didn't know whether her little girl lived or died. She called us. She sent us a photo of the child. We were able to get that photo aired on national television, and we received a call from the little girl's grandmother who said, `I saved her; she's with me,' but the grandmother didn't know where her daughter, the child's mother, was. So through that kind of information clearinghouse, what we're doing is trying to link people and reunite their families.
ELLIOTT: So how many children are still considered missing after the storm?
Mr. ALLEN: Well, most of the children are not missing in the traditional sense. We still have almost 500 cases in which the child was reported to us by a close family member as missing or dislocated. We have been able to locate and reunite more than 4,500 children with their families, but these remaining nearly 500--we know that some number--we hope a very small number--are children who simply did not survive the storm. But the vast majority of the ones that remain we are confident are children who are with a parent or a grandparent, but other family members don't know where they are. So this is more a case of fractured families than of traditionally missing children.
ELLIOTT: Ernie Allen is president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Thank you so much for speaking with us.
Mr. ALLEN: Thank you, Debbie.
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