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Katrina partner families: five years after the storm

Alabama

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It belongs to us
Africa Locke, a native of Mobile, has worked for years as a senior programmer at a health care software company. Raising her two children alone, though, made homeownership a distant dream.

   

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It’s home now
When Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on Waveland, Mississippi, Andre Paez packed up his young daughter, a guitar, a few clothes and some stuffed animals and fled, first to Dallas and then to Troy, Alabama.

   

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Katrina started us over
Darlene Presley lost all her possessions when Hurricane Katrina swept through Moss Point, Mississippi, in 2005.

Louisiana

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We didn’t have anything else
Like many survivors of Hurricane Katrina, Kizzy Brown still grapples with feelings of loss, sadness and something close to guilt.

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We’re still in awe
On March 13, 2010, Nate Campo turned 11 in typical birthday style, surrounded by family and friends, eating cake and ice cream, opening presents.

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It feels good to be a homeowner
When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, Chaquidra Martin was a 23-year-old mother with an infant daughter, living in a rental house in Metairie

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We basically started our life all over again
Jason Honore and his wife, Krystle, lost everything but a few days’ worth of clothes and some jewelry when Hurricane Katrina destroyed their home in New Orleans’ 9th Ward.

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It feels different to own
Shawn and Jeff Simon had paid the deposit on a rental house for their family in Bogalusa, Louisiana, when Hurricane Katrina came along and destroyed it.

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It’s a piece of the American pie
Joy Velez and her teenage daughter, Krystal, moved into their Habitat house on Hope Lane two days before Christmas in 2008.

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You do the best you can
Kimberley Stewart and her daughter, Kennedy, did not evacuate as Hurricane Katrina bore down on the Gulf Coast five years ago.

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This is something I can call mine
LaShonda Butler, a 33-year-old administrative coordinator at McNeese State University, is anxious to “not be a certain statistic.”

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It took a hurricane to make it happen
Pat Hebard, a 60-year-old survivor of cancer and Hurricane Katrina, has relocated from New Orleans to Lafayette Parish, where she recently moved into her own home, built in partnership with the Middle Eastern state of Qatar and Lafayette Habitat for Humanity.

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We’re here to help each other
Ralph Shirley, 71, lived in Chalmette in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. Shortly before the storm, he took his ailing wife out of the Chalmette hospital—which was directly in harm’s way—and evacuated first to Mississippi and then to Arkansas

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Why not try?
Travis Cheatum, 23, has been a banquet chef at Emeril Lagasse’s famed restaurant NOLA for almost two years

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It’s mine to worry about
Whitney Snider and her 5-year-old son, Ray, moved into a Habitat house in the Abita Nursery community of Covington, Louisiana, in August 2009.

Mississippi

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I know that is love
Ailene Preston, who has suffered from Type 2 diabetes since her early 20s, relocated from Picayune, Mississippi, to Meridian after Hurricane Katrina destroyed her small house on half an acre.

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It has been a new beginning
Deanna Narcisse, 34, is a waitress at the Waffle House in downtown Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The restaurant is a popular community gathering place, and Narcisse is a vocal advocate for Gulf Coast recovery efforts in general and Habitat for Humanity’s role in particular.

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If I can put up with Katrina, I can do anything
Deirdre Jackson, a schoolteacher, and her daughter, Destiny, lived in New Orleans East before losing everything in Hurricane Katrina.

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Living here has made the difference
Dianne Pavolini and her four grandchildren lost everything they owned when Hurricane Katrina demolished their double-wide mobile home in Gulfport, Mississippi

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The house has made such a difference
Earl Phillips and his wife, Belinda, have been married for more than 20 years. For most of that time, they and their son, Blake, lived in an aging mobile home parked on the three-acre site of Earl’s parents’ home in Lucedale, Mississippi.

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To me, it’s the Taj Mahal
Ellen “Eagle” Finegan always enjoyed shooting photographs. After Hurricane Katrina washed everything she owned into the Gulf of Mexico, though, taking pictures became much more urgent.

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They’re all planting flowers now
Giselle Brown turns 80 this November, five years after Hurricane Katrina forced her to rebuild her life from scratch.

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We don’t have that worry of not having a home
Lynnsey Barnes and her teenage son, Cody, moved into their home in October 2008, built in partnership with Pearl River County Habitat for Humanity in Picayune, Mississippi.

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Mama, it’s perfect!
Malikah Samuel, 25, and her 7-year-old daughter, India, live in a two-bedroom home on Thrivent Lane in Long Beach, Mississippi, built in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

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Everybody should do their best
Mary Spinks Thigpen has long been a passionate advocate for her neighborhood, Forest Heights in north Gulfport, Mississippi, where she has lived since 1972.

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This home is ours
Monica Stallworth, 35, discovered many skills she didn’t know she had while earning her sweat-equity hours with Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity in Mississippi.

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To actually have a home to go to
Sharon Stiger and her 17-year-old son, Chris, lived in Waveland, Mississippi, before Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.

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You can’t get any closer to God
Stacey Loftin and her three children live in a “green superhouse,” built in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Bay-Waveland Area to the highest eco-friendly and energy-efficient standards.

Texas

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At peace here
Irwin Livers and his wife, Deloris, were living with their two grandsons about eight blocks from New Orleans’ historic French Quarter when Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005. Having ridden out many storms, they chose not to evacuate.

   

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Nothing like coming home to your own place
In 2005, Eddie and Celethia Edwards were raising four children in an overpriced, run-down three-bedroom apartment in their native Beaumont, Texas.