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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Why Stay? 

Posted by James at 4:29 PM ET

New Orleanians tell CityBusiness why they’re not giving up on the city

by Jaime Guillet
New Orleans City Business
Ashley DeatonLiving and working in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans suits Ashley Deaton’s personality just fine.

Deaton, 31, relishes her job as the New Orleans Hornets Honeybees manager and choreographer.

The LaPlace native danced on the 20-member Honeybee squad three years before taking over as manager two months before Katrina devastated New Orleans and relocated the Hornets to Oklahoma City. Half of the pre-storm Honeybees lived in the Chalmette or Slidell areas and were forced to stay and rebuild, which meant Deaton had to hold tryouts for 10 new dancers to round out the squad in OKC.

Challenges focus Deaton, however, and she “just digs in.”

“I already felt overwhelmed catching up and learning the tricks of the trade (as manager),” Deaton said. “We got to Oklahoma City and we had to have new tryouts and rebuild the costumes in two or three weeks, which normally takes two or three months. But it was a real cool experience immediately merging the two completely different cultures.”

Deaton lived in Oklahoma City during the two years after the storm and had to travel back and forth to New Orleans to train the 10 women still here. Deaton’s Warehouse District home was not damaged, which made her situation easier, but she never imagined leaving New Orleans.

“It was tough. I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep but it was all worth it,” Deaton said. “I learned everything a lot quicker. I think that anyone who considered coming back had concerns ... but it is home. I grew up here, my family is here and where else can you get this great culture?”

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