The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is working nonstop to reunite families

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated September 20, 2005 03:00 PM
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children/AP

Some 3,276 children from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are still missing or separated from at least one parent or caregiver, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which is leading efforts to reunite families separated during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

As of Monday, 883 – or, about one in four – cases had been solved, according to the Virginia-based center, whose toll-free number to assist in reuniting families is (888) 544-5475. The center’s Web site,, contains postings of photos of the missing children.

“They all went in different directions,” Noel Schultz, one of the group’s volunteers in Houston, said of families separated during the hurricane. “I think the object was to get to safety as fast as possible and … reunite later.”

The center is also working with police departments in Texas, Louisiana and elsewhere to identify parents and kids who are looking for each other. In addition, CNN is broadcasting continuous information about missing youngsters.

“Each of us who have children know what it’s like to lose your child for a minute in a department store, so we can imagine what these families are feeling and what they’re thinking if they’ve been separated from their children for the last week or so,” first lady Laura Bush said during a visit to the center on Friday.

At the request of the Dept. of Justice, the center is also assisting in the search for the nearly 9,000 adults who have been reported missing.

“These are the largest numbers we have ever had,” the safety director of the center, Nancy McBride, said in a statement Monday. “It’s just been an overwhelming job to find missing or lost children and get them back with their families.”