Tornado badly damages Project Homecoming's dorm

Tornado smashes Katrina volunteers' dorm

The tornado struck Project Homecoming's Volunteer Village not long after volunteers who spent the night there left to help repair Katrina damaged homes.

The twister badly damaged the main building, and ripped the roof off the second story of the dormitory as Erica Rudison hid in a bathroom.

"Sat in there until it like, until it passed,” a shaken Rudison said. “When it finally was safe to come out, we opened the door, and we could see the leaves in our hallway."

Since Katrina, volunteers have helped Project Homecoming restore 250 homes in New Orleans, sleeping in the dorm's bunk beds. Now it is shattered.

"It's pretty much a loss,” said Project Homecoming Executive Director Kris Pottharst. “You looked like you wanted to cry when you got out of the car? Yeah, it's pretty devastating to lose the capacity to bring people to the city to help rebuild, and now we're going to have to rebuild."

They just finished a house about a block away from here. The tornado took the roof off, the family is displaced for the third time. That's why Project Homecoming is so urgently seeking donations to replace their financial losses, and most importantly, places for volunteers to stay so they don't have to cancel their trips.

"We're hoping that organizations that have the space might help us house our volunteers,” Pottharst said. “We have between 600-1000 volunteers who will be coming here over the space of now until the summer."

Other charities helped salvage what they can.

"It's nuts to see what it looks like compared to the last time I saw it, so I just felt like I needed to do it," said Kat Schweitzer with Rebuilding Together.

The next group of volunteers are camping in the Project Homecoming office.

"We have bunk beds that we're installing up there," Pottharst said.

To donate to Project Homecoming, or offer living space for volunteers, call Project Homecoming at 504-942-0444, or visit their website at http://projecthomecoming.net/donate

© 2017 WWL-TV


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