As I watch the damage and clean up efforts from recent flooding in Louisiana, so many emotions from what I personally endured during Katrina are brought back to the surface. In one day, I lost my home, all of my belongings, my truck, and my job. My parents lost their home and four rental houses—which was to be their retirement.
When you face a disaster like this, you experience so many emotions. I felt a strong fear of never recovering and ending up homeless. You feel helpless not having the resources to have access to life's necessities like food, water, and gas. You have anger for losing everything for which you worked so hard. You feel sadness for losing all your sentimental items you once held so dear and will never be able to replace. But, somewhere in the middle of this emotional roller coaster you have to just put on your boots and start by picking up one piece of debris at a time. This is a lesson I learned from my Daddy.
There were nights that I would cry and ask my husband how we would not only rebuild our lives, but also be able to take care of my parents, as that was my number one priority. You see, it was hard for me to deal with losing our home, but we were young, healthy, and able to rebuild. It was seeing my elderly parents lose everything they had spent their life building that I couldn’t handle. They lost their home - my safe place, the place that held all of my childhood memories. They also lost their entire retirement - all the rental houses they had invested in over the years were completely gone, with no sign remaining that they ever existed.
Fast-forward nine months. We spent that time clearing debris, gutting our home so we could repair it, and giving it to my parents so they would have a place to call home as we built a new home. I had many jobs in this nine-month period. I never found a place where I felt like I made a difference and at that time in my life, I needed to know I was helping more than just myself. Every Sunday, my mother-in-law would joke with me, asking where I was going to work this week. That was until I stumbled on the Louisiana accounting firm HORNE that was working to help rebuild my community.
When I joined the HORNE team in May 2006, it was just for a three-month temporary position in an industry in which I had no experience. After my interview, I honestly thought it would be another one-week gig. But, after my first week I knew I was right where I needed to be; not only for myself, but for my family and my community. I knew that I would be able to join a team that was working hard to make my community whole again. Ten years later, with lots of growth and hard work, I still have this rewarding feeling and connection with all my team members, but also with the many families, communities, agencies, and people we serve.I know what it’s like to be in their shoes and strive to do all I can to let them know they aren’t alone.
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