Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rebuilding NOLA is about the people...

Larry & Yolanda Searls

Larry & Yolanda worked hard to buy their home four years before the storm. Larry was a manager of the Hilton Hotel parking garage and Yolanda worked in early childhood development.
They had been careful with their money and were looking forward to the future with their family close by. Their daughter, son in law, grandchildren and mother lived next door. The grandchildren would come by after school and play in the backyard. Most all of Yolanda's family lived within 10 mins of their home on Touro St. and a large number were within easy walking distance. Parties and holidays were family reunions and Mardi Gra season produced a house full of family from points all over the South East. The neighborhood was full of children and Yolanda's childhood friends were seen daily at the local grocery stores and shops.

Katrina changed all that for these two wonderful people. They had to evacuate to Arkansas and Yolanda's retirement fund was used for them to survive while they regrouped to rebuild. Larry returned to NOLA first and lived in a FEMA trailer in the front yard. During the hot summer, he would meet the contractor and subs and then head to the mall were the AC was running full blast. He would return late in the afternoon or early evening to check the progress on the house and attempt to cool the FEMA trailer with an inadequate cooling system. The Searls spent all their insurance, all of Yolanda's retirement and much of their savings to complete the house. At the end the budget was tapped out as they needed to install the interior door units. Larry would get up early and go to the local Lowe's to check through the returned doors from the day before.
He took what he could find and did the best he could with the funds and experience he had. Larry wanted to return to his job at the Hilton. Since the storm the Hilton has hired a private company to handle parking. Larry's job has been outsourced, he has found a part time job making less pay, yet he has a a smile on his face and faith in his heart.

NOAH is now helping them with a few new door units and a new kitchen countertop. Larry IS a great shopper as he found a fantastic kitchen sink for $3.00.

Larry and Yolanda inspire me with perseverance and faith. Even though their life has changed and family is now spread 800 miles away they are still a family of great joy. Their are thousands of people in NOLA just like Larry and Yolanda. Many of them will need help to complete and move back into their homes. Volunteers are still hearing about the plight of NOLA and coming to help. What will be needed in the future is support for these volunteers and funds for materials.
If you will help me I will continue to come and help folks like Larry and Yolanda. If you will help me I will help purchase the materials to finish these homes. If you will help me I will bring volunteers and help other volunteers rebuild. If you will come, I will introduce you to not only Larry and Yolanda, but many folks just like them. To truly grasp and understand the magnitude of the Katrina aftermath you need to see and experience NOLA.


  1. Please post how a person can donate so you can donate your skills. Make a sidebar link or indicate some way to reach you, unless I missed it?


  2. send an email to:

    I'll send you the address for our church.