LaPlace is still cleaning up after Hurricane Isaac
LaPlace, La. - Michael Dardinger faces a tight deadline.
His family arrives in a few short hours and, along with preparing the Christmas Eve meal, he has to finish construction on the kitchen.
"I just got done putting in the trim underneath the window cases because she wants the kitchen done for today," says Dardinger. "So I got a few more outlets to change, switches to change just right here and then finish painting the kitchen, the trim and then we're finished."
Other rooms in the house still need work but the family is back home for the first time since August 29.
Dardinger, his wife and their three children lived in a hotel room for nearly four months after Hurricane Isaac filled their LaPlace home with water. He spent every available hour working to restore the home, spraying for mold, hanging new sheet rock and painting.
"I went to work, then I would come here until 9:30, 10:30 at night then go to the hotel and sleep, get up go to work," he says. "Weekends, stay here until 9:30, 10:30. Just everyday, everyday I was here."
Many homes in Dardinger's community still sit empty. His next-door neighbors moved away. Another neighbor is still waiting on insurance money to begin repairs. But there are signs of progress here, even among the piles of debris still sitting along some streets.
Dardinger dug a few Christmas decorations out of the attic. "I felt it would make us feel a little more festive with all the work going on because I'm not gonna lie, we've had rough times going through this," he says.
The family is still waiting for reimbursement from their insurance company, so Christmas might not come with as many presents this year.
Their real gift is being home. "This is Merry Christmas to us," says Dardinger. "The house is back together this is our Christmas right here."
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