HAMMOND, LA (WVUE) - There are still 1,600 families living in FEMA-funded hotels this Christmas, four months after the August flood. But that number shrank by one Friday, and a single mother of three couldn't be happier.
"Merry Christmas, sweetheart," said Vicki Vargas of Gonzales, bearing gifts.
April Holloway lived in a hotel and even lived out of her car for a time, but is now back in her newly repaired two-bedroom apartment in Tangi Village.
"It was like we was the laughingstock of Hammond because we got flooded twice," she said.
To say the last year was rough would be an understatement.
"It's like, I can't believe it. It's been a long eight months asking for help," she said.
Holloway was worried about providing a decent Christmas to her three children - 12-year-old Precious, 7-year-old Corbin and 5-year-old Chanel - but now she worries no more. Volunteers from as far away as Gonzales and New Orleans, came bearing gifts for the family.
"Everyone came together, and they continue to, and it's a beautiful thing," said Clyde Cain, with the Cajun Navy.
The Cajun Navy has been there for Holloway through much of her ordeal and was there again today, two days before Christmas.
"With so many people reaching in, it's just a blessing," said Precious.
Though Holloway is grateful for the help she's getting, she knows there are still dozens of other flood victims out of their homes this Christmas.
"You got people still in the hotel. Came from the store, one of the families sleeping in their car. It's not right," she said.
But for now, at least, she can enjoy being back at home with her children, surrounded by gifts from people she largely doesn't know, though she's comforted by the fact that so many care.
"Knowing they got people out there who help - it's overwhelming. And I thank God for everybody," she said.
"Thanks for your donation, I love you guys, and hope you have a Merry Christmas, thank you so much," said Precious.