Hurricane victim learns patience

January 31, 2005
By Theresa Schmidt

Even before Hurricane Rita,  82 year old Mary was on the City of Lake Charles' housing rehab waiting list. And since the hurricane she had to contend with mold and leaks and other problems, so this is a red letter day: her FEMA trailer has arrived.  "It's been a long road," she admits.

The workmen spent the morning and early afternoon getting power and sewerage hooked up and putting a ramp in place. Mary is anxious to get a look inside at what will become her temporary home. She smiles.  "It looks good outside. I'm very anxious to see it inside." Finally the workers are through and Mary gets to check it out. "Oh, it's roomy in here. Isn't it nice?"

Mary's house is too severely damage to be repaired, so through the rehab program, it will be torn down and rebuilt. She'll stay in the FEMA trailer during construction. "I think it's very nice. I'm so excited."  When she discovers boxes of supplies, linens and small appliances, some of which are donated by church groups,  she sounds like a little kid on Christmas morning.  "This is exciting! Surprise, surprise, surprise! Wow! Look at that! A coffee maker!"  She tells her pastor and me, "You'll have to come drink coffee with me! Isn't that nice! All I have to do now is bring my clothes!"

The home rehab program is funded with federal dollars but run by the City of Lake Charles. If all goes according to plan Mary should have a new house within several months. "I've waited so long. I've learned to be patient in all things."

And to those still waiting, who are on the verge of losing heart, her advice: "I say, have patience. Have faith in God. He'll work everything out for you."

Like hundreds who still wait, Mary was on the housing rehab list for years before getting to this point.  That's partly because it's harder to find contractors to undertake these less profitable projects funded by the government.  Contractors interested in helping with housing rehab should call Lake Charles community services at 491-1440.