May 7, 2013

BlogTourNOLA ~ Giving Back, Katrina, and a guy named Joe

Many of you were following along as I posted amazing pictures from the days in New Orleans.. and read the posts from Magazine Street, the Garden District, and the French Quarter but it took me a while to properly digest all that as we visited some of the less spoken about areas still reeling from Hurricane Katrina.


Total fatalities1,833, Highest winds174 mph (280 km/h), DateAugust 23, 2005 – August 30, 2005

Not Sandy, Irene.. or any other female name you can think of but the hurricane that rocked the Louisiana coast nearly 8 years ago.

One of the special moments in this day visit to some of the hardest hit areas, such as what was a well loved suburban area, Gentilly, and how it is still trying to come back from what was the first major flooding in this area.

The homes in Gentilly are being raised, just in case the waters come rushing in once again.

Most homes were just as those we have around us that live outside of the city.. walkways, gardens, and a front door that you walk straight into. Not anymore. Now, each home is going UP, UP and higher than the home next door just in case the waters flood once again. But this takes money. Most of the homeowners were offered appx $30,000 to have this work done, although the cost is essentially closer to $65,000, so each did what they could. Some, were victims of contractor fraud.

Each section of these streets are part of the story.. Some are boarded up, others, have been demolished with only the stairs to what was once a home left as a reminder of what used to be.

A few streets away, the stark contrast of these beautifully kept homes is very real and almost too much to comprehend, especially as we stop and visit one of these homes.
Having the knowledge, that literally next door to a family that Joe and the team at St Pauls Homecoming Center are helping fix with the support of those at NKBA and KBIS, neighbors with very fancy cars and homes that are worth 6 and 7 digits is very disheartening.
Where is the sense of neighborly love gone in America today?

After having experienced Hurricane Sandy with my young family, that still shudder every time there is a thunder storm, made this experience very real and took it's toll on me.

TOP Pictures: Gentilly.. some of the beautiful homes that are literally next door to those still in drastic need. Contractor Fraud, bad luck and lots of difficulties throughout the 2008 downturn have taken a toll.
BOTTOM pictures: Home of one of the neighbours, still in need and living with her family in this room.. without a kitchen. Joe, and the team at invited us to see the amazing work they are doing.

So, the efforts of Joe and his family, are ever more heroic in my eyes. The love he shows to his fellow neighbor is why I want to help him. He deserves it.
So, Meet Joe. Hear his story of how Katrina took his home one month after he married his lovely wife, Gloria.

"Residing in their new house for just one month before Katrina slammed the city, the couple lost everything when the levee behind their house was destroyed - one of 53 levees in the city breached by the storm surge – and canal water swallowed the home. The Roberts evacuated the city, staying with various friends and relatives. When the flood waters receded weeks later, Joe and Gloria moved into a pop-up camper in their driveway for a while, but they’ve also been staying with Joe’s daughter from a previous marriage. Nearly eight years later, Joe and Gloria’s house is still uninhabitable. While a new house has been framed out, the building lacks essentials including electrical, drywall, flooring and plumbing.  Because Joe is a contractor by trade, he has the skills to work on his house, but he has generously donated much of his free time to volunteering with St. Paul’s Homecoming Center helping to rebuild other people’s houses."

Joe was one of the kindest men and one of the highlights was meeting him.
Speaking with him, hearing how he and his wife truly sacrifice their own comfort and well being, and how his whole family contributes, in providing so many other families with the joy of coming home, was inspiring to say the least.

What I found the most incredible, was the height at which the water lives above the homes in what almost appears as a valley below. No wonder, when the levees broke, the water came rushing in and took nearly a month to recede. Where would it go?

What I found the most incredible, was the height at which the water lives above the homes in what almost appears as a valley below. No wonder, when the levees broke, the water came rushing in and took nearly a month to recede. Where would it go?

Joe works on his home little by little, but is often derailed by setbacks such as having his house broken into and his tools stolen. Even though Joe was forced to save up until he could replenish his tool supply, he has not lost his faith in humanity.
 Fortunately, Joe and Gloria received some good news recently when Storehouse of World Vision selected the couple and their house for a rehab project.

and have a page dedicated to Joe & Gloria -> a fundraiser just for Joe.
A few weeks ago Storehouse joined forces with the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) and St. Paul’s Homecoming Center to help rehab kitchens and baths in three houses as a lead-in to NKBA’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) held April 19-21 in New Orleans.
 While Storehouse and NKBA partners have donated materials, appliances and labor for a new kitchen and bath in the Robert’s house, the rest of the unfinished home still needs lots of TLC.
Want to help ?? Join me and the team of #BlogTourNOLA on Thursday from 4-5pm EST, for a live and fun chat about all the ways we can contribute.

  1. The easiest way to join in on a chat: login to 
  2. and enter the hashtag: #blogtournola

I was even thinking of packing up my kids and flying down to give them a helping hand..
Hope to see you all there.

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