Five Years Post-Katrina, Recovery Continues

By: Lindsey Brown Email
By: Lindsey Brown Email

The hammers and power saws are still out, but just not at the frequency they were in first couple of years after the storm.

This is because Lauderdale County's Habitat for Humanity has been so successful in getting storm victims into homes.

"Those that moved here don't have a support system of families," said executive director Fonda Rush. "There's are still on the coast or New Orleans, so they became our family."

And this family tie gets stronger and stronger every year. Rush started feeling the very familiar, storm-related emotions about two weeks ago.

"Actually I've been crying for three days," said Rush. "And you get to the point where you don't want to talk about it, because those emotions come to the top."

But Rush tries not to focus on the sad memories, but instead look at the good that has come in the last five years. And she says there is plenty to talk about.

One thing Hurricane Katrina did was force the Lauderdale County affiliate to make some quick changes. For example, all of the volunteers who come to visit need a place to stay. Now there are guest rooms packed full of bunk beds that can sleep ten people comfortably.

"The way I look at it, and we've talked about it, is that we grew up here at Habitat," said Rush. "Katrina made us grow up, become more professional, more business-like, so we could continue to grow and grow our ministry."

The updates continue in the kitchen, where food for staff and volunteers can be prepared during busy build weeks, and in the board room. The staff used recycled materials to create a space where they can meet. All of this is needed as storm relief continues to this day.

"We are all still recovering," said Rush. "I don't know when we'll be through."

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