Beyond Katrina: Some communities depend on volunteers to rebound

Beyond Katrina: Some communities depend on volunteers to rebound

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Stanley Blackman stood on his porch on America Street and cherished the view.

"They're doing a swell job," Blackman said.

Across the street from his home in New Orleans East, dozens of volunteers were building a house. And down on the same street several more were being constructed on a foundation of generosity.

"I think it's a wonderful thing that the neighborhood is being built is being back up," Blackman said.

It is just months from the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and some communities in the city are still relying on help from volunteers to get storm homes repaired or built.

On Thursday, nearly 200 employees of local Home Depot stores teamed up with New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together New Orleans to build 10 new homes in that neighborhood alone.

"I live in this area, and I also lost everything in Katrina, so to be able to help someone else get back on their feet is a blessing for me. It makes me feel good to be able to do that for someone else," said Althea Pleasant, a volunteer who works at the Home Depot Store in New Orleans East.

"Their work is going to help transform this neighborhood, today, right now," Jenna Turnage of Habitat for Humanity said.

One of the homes will be occupied by pre-school teacher Kaonta Minor, who happily posed for a photo on a portion of the three-bedroom house being constructed.

"It is a fairly decent size home for a single mother and two young children, completely fenced in yard, elevated, termite control," said Scott Corry, a manager at the Home Depot in Chalmette.

And the reality is that in a number of New Orleans neighborhoods, volunteer-driven rebuilding will be needed for years to come.

"The need is still palpable. There are a lot of people who are really still trying to get back in the neighborhood that they lived in prior to Katrina," Turnage said.

"You would have never thought that some areas of the city would still be in the shape they're in," Corry said.

Blackman applauded the construction fueled by compassion.

"I thank them for coming down into this neighborhood doing a good job," he said.

The local Habitat for Humanity said it is still building 30 homes a year.

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