Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
PORT SULPHUR, La. -- The tears flowed when Pam Williams was given the keys to her brand new home in Port Sulphur. She cried, and so did those who spearheaded the rebuilding project.
"Whoo, it is beautiful, beautiful," said Pam as she tried not to cry. "It's great. I'm speechless. I'm nervous. It's great, it's great."
"So we are just so blessed, and I feel honored to be able to work with her, and to be able to help a woman of such fortitude to be able to come home again," said Nicole Saulnier Timmons of United Way as she choked up with emotion.
"And this is my property here, and that is my house, the white and blue house right there," Pam said in early September 2005, the day the flood waters receded in Plaquemines Parish, and she was able to come back to find her home pushed off its foundations by the storm surge, and destroyed.
We first met Pam just days after Katrina in 2005, when she returned to find the wreckage of her house, and knew she would have to start over.
"I'll be back. I'll be back," she said then. "It'll just take time to build. I'll be back."
But it turned into a years-long struggle, as she lived in a FEMA trailer while her Road Home money went to the mortgage company, the Small Business Administration, and to a contractor who disappeared after completing half of a badly built, unlivable house.
"Going bankrupt, going bankrupt, about to lose any little thing that I have left."
When things were pretty much at their darkest -- Pam was out of money, out of resources and out of energy -- the United Way arrived with a nearly $2 million grant to help eight families in Plaquemines. When they met Pam, well, almost immediately the tears began to flow.
"And we had a lot of tears that day, and I know that today is also going to be one of those days for us," Nicole said as she began to cry.
"We call our program at United Way 'No Place Like Home,' and one of the reasons is this is a house, but when Pamela Williams gets in it, it becomes an home, and there's no place like home," added Steve Zimmer of United Way.
"Whoa, everybody, that's all I can say, is just thank y'all," Pam said as the tears flowed while she stood in front of the crowd of volunteers who helped build the house.
The unfinished house couldn't be saved, and was replaced with a three-bedroom, two-bath home raised 13 feet, and 7-year-old daughter Oleya got a big surprise: her dream bedroom.
"So we succeeded, and I thank you guys," Pam said as she hugged Nicole, and the two cried together inside the new home.