Jamie Goodwin: ‘It means a lot to be moving there’ -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Jamie Goodwin: ‘It means a lot to be moving there’

Jamie Goodwin, a lifelong resident of Lake Charles, earns a living as a dealer at a casino. She has three young sons.

Jamie Goodwin’s journey to her Habitat home is ending in a very familiar place: right next door to her daddy.

“I’m just excited,” said Jamie, the mother of three young sons. “It means a lot to be moving there, and into my own home.”

Jamie’s father, Thomas Goodwin, provided the vacant site on Commercial Street where his daughter’s house will be built during this year’s Carter Project.

Jamie, a native and lifelong resident of Lake Charles, earns a living as a dealer at L’Auberge du Lac Hotel & Casino. When Hurricane Rita bore down on Texas and Louisiana in September 2005, she took her sons and, like most people in Lake Charles, fled town.

“We heeded authorities,” said Thomas Guillory, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Calcasieu Area.

Because most people evacuated, few people were killed or injured, but the storm did millions of dollars’ worth of damage to the Lake Charles community. Much of the affordable housing suddenly was gone, drastically reducing already limited opportunities for people with low or moderate incomes.

Emily Davault, development director of Habitat Calcasieu, has spent the past two years in a FEMA trailer with a family that includes three natural children and 11 foster children.

“We love each other,” Davault said, laughing. “We really do.”

She’s in the process of buying her own place, even as most of her time and attention is focused on getting people like Jamie Goodwin into Habitat homes.

“I am inspired on a daily basis,” Davault said, “every time I meet a new partner homeowner.”

Affiliate Information:
Lake Charles, Louisiana: Three houses for Carter Project 2008

More than two years after the 2005 hurricane season, emotions are still a little raw in Lake Charles.

“We tend to be forgotten,” said Emily Davault, development director at Calcasieu Area Habitat for Humanity. “Everybody focuses on Katrina and nobody remembers Rita.”

Rita was a Category 3 hurricane when it slammed into this city of 100,000 on Sept. 24, 2005. Most of the houses and businesses in the area were either destroyed or severely damaged, and the city’s electrical grid took nearly three weeks to be repaired.

“Everybody jumped in and started helping each other,” Davault said. “So we were kind of forgotten because of that. But now, everybody’s been depleted and we’re running out of everything. The churches are depleted, everybody in this area is depleted because we’ve been helping our neighbors so much. And we’re like, OK, people, now we need help.”

Before Rita, the Calcasieu Area HFH built two to four houses a year. Now they build 10 a year. “We could build more if we had more funds,” Davault said, citing a still-overwhelming need for affordable housing in this area where the median household income is about $31,000, earned mostly at the huge petrochemical refining centers or casinos.

For this year’s Carter Work Project, the affiliate is building three houses.