Water from the storm surge came in through doors and windows, and quickly rose to a height of four feet. Standing chest deep in the polluted water, they wondered what they would do if it continued to rise.
“Everything in the house was floating all around us, including all of our pets,” she remembers.
After an hour the water became to subside. Soon they ventured out to a living nightmare. “There were trees down everywhere. Our cars had floated away. And snakes were everywhere.”
For 2½ weeks they “camped” on the front porch of their house – the only safe structure they could find. During this time they bathed at an artesian well that had a hose. It was 1½ months before they had electricity.
The most difficult part of the experience was not being able to communicate with her ex-husband and children right after the hurricane. “For three days they thought I was dead,” she recalls. When they were finally reunited they all hugged each other and began to cry. “I don’t ever want to be away from them again.”
When the hurricane struck, Crystal and her children were living with her parents. Recently divorced, she was trying to get on her feet, while working and taking care of her three children. Even though both she and her parents lost everything to Katrina, FEMA’s recovery grant covered only her parents’ possessions. Crystal received only $500 to help replace the beds, sofas, chairs, appliances, clothes and other items she lost. Another small grant from the American Red Cross provided some relief, as well.
In spite of her losses, Crystal is excited, because her new Habitat house will soon be complete. She smiles when she ponders the impact the house will have on her children. “In my parents’ house the kids are living together in the same room. For this reason, they fight a lot. In the new Habitat house we will have more rooms, so the kids will have their own space. I’m looking forward to that.”
Crystal’s Habitat house is being built through a partnership between her, volunteers, and donors. This partnership is organized by Habitat for Humanity Bay-Waveland and is made possible through the generosity of many friends and neighbors.