Christine Logan: Time for her own place -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Christine Logan: Time for her own place

Because of her job, Christine Logan barely got out of town before Hurricane Katrina hit. Her daughter and grandson had already left. She caught a last-minute ride with a cousin, throwing just a few things in a bag: She’d only be gone overnight and she had no time to pack.

If you’ve wondered what living in a FEMA trailer would be like, Christine Logan still remembers the trailer that sat on the front lawn of her sister Rosemary’s house and was both sisters’ home for too long.

“Oh my gosh,” she said as she began a description of trailer life with a slight shudder.

“It’s a blessing to have a place to stay, but it’s tight, cramped,” she said. “Then at 2 or 3 a.m. when the butane tank went out, you’d have to go out in the cold to change it.”

There was no gauge to tell you when the tank might run out. There was no privacy and if you want to know what tight is, “it’s like trying to take a shower in a little tub,” she said.

When Katrina came, Logan had almost stayed in the house that she shares with her sister. She had to stay for work, then at almost the last minute her boss called and said it was OK to leave town. Her sister, with whom she lived, was a registered nurse and stayed at Singing River, the local hospital. Her daughter and grandson had already left. She caught a last-minute ride with a cousin, throwing just a few things in a bag: She’d only be gone overnight and she had no time to pack. “I’ll be ready, I told him,” she said.

Logan fled to family in Natchez where she was raised, had gone to community college, married and worked for many years as a housekeeper at the local hospital. She moved to Pascagoula in 2004.

Days after the storm passed and water receded, sister Rosemary got time to leave the hospital to see how her house was. Rosemary called on her cell phone to describe what she saw.

“Trees were down on the cars; water had been high enough to move all the furniture,” Christine remembered. “It was real bad. She was so hysterical. This had never happened.”

Then Rosemary, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves, was called up, leaving her sister to try to manage repairs on the house. “I had trouble with contractors. It’s hard to know who to trust when you don’t know people,” Christine said, adding that she finally got help from a team of workers from a Methodist church in Gautier. Meanwhile, her sister juggled caring for soldiers and worrying about her damaged house.

Taking initiative

All of this work on her sister’s house seemed to increase Logan’s longing for a place of her own. She has two daughters: Irma, a respiratory therapist at Singing River, and Krystal, who lives in Natchez. Each has a three-year-old son, born a few months apart.

She learned about Habitat for Humanity on “Oprah,” saw the Web site and phone number, and called and got an application.

Her next step was with The Salvation Army, which has worked tirelessly to help process homeowner applications.

The Salvation Army worker checked her application so carefully.

“She was circling things. Nodding her head. I was worried. I’m thinking, ‘this don’t look so good,’” Logan narrated.

“Then she said I passed along to the next level. She said I had some blemishes but I had cleaned it up.”

Next she was told to check her mailbox because she would get a phone call or a letter if she had been approved for a house.

“I checked every day. I was excited and wanted to get my own home. The letter would say if I was approved or not. A week went by, they called and they wanted more information. I took it right down,” she continued.

“One day I walked to the mailbox, a letter! ‘Please let this be good news.’ I opened it up. It said, ‘you have been approved.’

“That was the best day for me.”

Good people

Working her 200 sweat equity hours has been the next hurdle.

That’s been a challenge because one of her days off is Monday, a day when Habitat does not build, so she’s done some volunteering in the office.

Co-workers at Wal-Mart, where she is a cashier, have volunteered to help her; her friends Linda and Clarence Beamer have been regulars, she said.

And Logan has become a great fan of Habitat construction sites.

“It’s exciting to work with a lot of people from different places,” she said. “They want to take pictures with you because you’re a homeowner. You’d be surprised at the people working: college students, the mayor, a district supervisor.

“It’s something to do to learn things. I never knew how to put up siding. When we raised up a wall, it was something like you see on TV. We start with a prayer and the joke of the day. It’s just we’re all about family. Everybody’s out to work. You got to work in the mud if there’s mud. Bend your knees, lift. It’s been a long time since I wallowed in the mud. One lady hit her finger and it bled. She just held it up a while ‘til it stopped and went back to work. These are good people.”