Volunteers still want to help years after Katrina

NEW ORLEANS -- School is out and their friends are at the beach, but a busload of James Madison University students from Virginia are in the Holy Cross neighborhood rebuilding from a storm they don't know much about.

The students were 8 or 9 years old when Katrina hit. Many thought a decade out, their help wouldn't be needed, until they got here.

"There's still a lot of vacant houses. A lot of houses are empty. A lot of houses look like they are freshly being built," said Abhis Sedhai. "There's just a lot of work to be done""

But a lot of work has been done, as other James Madison University volunteers can attest.

The school has now made 10 week long trips here since the storm, and they're coming back this fall.

They come here as volunteers, college kids, not really knowing what to expect, but in some cases they get to meet the homeowner. And when they do, it changes everything.

"And she was so thankful. That was incredible, because we know we're, like, directly affecting her life in such a huge way, and that's so awesome."

Coordinating the work and volunteers is the non-profit, project homecoming. They're working on a handful of houses at once, and without a steady stream of volunteers still coming it wouldn't be possible.

"It's a little bit harder to come by state and federal grant money than it was immediately post-Katrina, so now we have to make more happen with less," said Tom Mattera with Project Homecoming.

Many more houses are lined up ready for work.

If you have a storm project you would like Project Homecoming to look at, give them a call at 942-0444


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