Remembering Hurricane Katrina
It was one of those days you never forget. My parents had been volunteering with the Salvation Army for over 20 years, and any time there was a disaster, they stopped everything and headed out to help. Their neighbor Doris Clemmons donated this amazing disaster canteen to the Texas region, and when they heard that Katrina was heading towards the Gulf Coast they immediately hit the road.
The reason I remember this trip more than any of the others is that my mother called me on her cell to let me know they had made it to New Orleans and they were on the road in front of The Superdome and had no idea what was going on in front and around that building. They were going to stop and help there but from what I was seeing on the television I told them they needed to keep driving. Thank heavens they did - one of the other trucks that was with them got hijacked, and we all knwo the rest of that story.
But my parents never give up. They helped out at many of the Gulf Coast communities in Mississippi, and when the flood waters went down they spent almost 6 weeks in the French Quarter serving hot meals to all of the security, police, and emergency workers. To this day my Dad kids that he always wanted to have a restaurant in the French Quarter and he finally got it :)
After Katrina, the biggest needs were food and housing. My parents were doing a great job with the food, and I knew I could help with the housing. Manufactured Housing was the perfect way to get people into a home - either permanently or on a temporary basis and this amazing group of manufacturers stepped up to the plate quickly to help provide these homes.
One of the biggest misconceptions about "FEMA Trailers" was the formaldehyde issue. Most of the trailers that people ended up living in were truly trailers - RVs or recreational vehicles that were under 300 sq ft. and were never meant for long term living. Many people ended up with these because they could be parked at their property. Most of the manufactured homes were to large for this and needed to be in on of the parks that were set up. I worked with Patriot Homes and have firsthand knowledge - I'm proud to say that I personally designed and found furniture for over 2,500 of these units and I always like to say mine were the best looking homes on the block!
I'm really proud of how the manufactured housing community stepped up and accomplished miracles, and I also couldn't be more proud of my parents and all of the work, prayers and meals they served during this critical time in our history.