From Hurricane Katrina to the American Dream

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The venue changes on a daily basis as HUD continues to assist FEMA in housing disaster victims. The HUD Community Planning and Development and Public Housing Team working in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Donna Roachford, ATL, CPD, Carmelita Williams, HQ, CPD, and Charles Eldridge, FW, PIH) were elated when a family they assisted through the Temporary Housing Assistance Program for Disaster Victims (REO properties) received a home.

The Bates Family journey began on Sunday August 28, 2005. Genard, Andrea, and their two children Damon, age three and Yasmin, age one, fled their home as Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. They drove through four feet of water fearing that the car would be flooded and that they would be stranded before reaching shelter. The couple and their children made it to an area hotel for refuge. While in their room, the windows were blown out and they ended up sleeping in the hallway on a mattress they had taken from the room. Some looting took place in the hotel, which made them very nervous, so they decide to continue their journey at daybreak. When morning came, they drove to Andrea's mothers house in Metairie, LA. Although her mother's house was without power, many of Andrea's family members had gathered there and there was no room for her family to stay. That night, they stayed in their car in her mother's driveway. The next morning they said their goodbyes and began traveling north to find a hotel. The family stopped at every hotel along the way and was unable to find one until they reached Baton Rouge.

Many things have happened with the family since their lives were turn upside down by Hurricane Katrina. Both Genard and Andrea lost their jobs, both children had birthdays, Yasmin said her first words and took her first steps, Genard and Andrea celebrated their third wedding anniversary, and Genard had a birthday. Genard has a severe case of diabetes and only had a small amount of insulin with him and found a doctor in Baton Rouge to supply him with insulin just as he ran out.

Genard and Andrea signed up for a trailer and looked all over town for an apartment or house to rent. Despite it all, the Bates family kept their faith and continued their search for housing. Finally, the HUD Team came to the hotel they were staying in and introduced the REO program to them. The couple called HUD the same day and received a call from the M&M contractor who gave them the address to a house for their consideration. The couple immediately went out and looked at the house. They were very excited about the house and decided that that would be their home. The couple moved into their three-bedroom home on an acre lot in Maurepas, LA, Thanksgiving week. The Bates family will have the option to purchase the home at the appraised value after 18 months. Through this major disaster, HUD has made it possible for the Bates family to pursue the "American Dream" to become a homeowner.

Content Archived: September 09, 2009