Biloxi woman declares "Katrina is over for me" - - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi woman declares "Katrina is over for me"

By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) –  "Katrina is over for me and I'm coming home," an emotional Mary Jackson said Friday as a group of volunteers cheered.

"The loving hands that touched every bit of this home, thank you just doesn't seem to be enough," she told them.

More than a dozen people gathered Friday to dedicate and bless her newly-restored house on Briarfield Avenue in Biloxi.

Jackson lost her rental home in Katrina.  With help from her grandmother, she was able to buy the house next door.  It was badly damaged, but Jackson didn't have money to fix it.  Since then, she's been living on the front porch, with neighbors, in a FEMA trailer, and at a motel. 

More than 136 volunteers with Hope Community Development Agency spent eight weeks, stripping the house down to its bare walls and rebuilding it.  A $55,000 MDA "Coming Home Collaborative House Grant" helped pay for the restoration.

"It's a miracle to walk through this house today compared to the way it was. I'm so happy with all the work," said Jackson. "Today is very joyous for me."

"This is the point that we live for, seeing a homeowner come back into their home, seeing the tears of joy, the gratefulness.  That's why we do what we do," said Hope CDA Director Bill Stallworth.

Jackson eagerly showed off the 1,300 square foot home, including the lavender walls, stained glass windows, and a corner where she plans to spend a lot of time with her family of cats.

"Sit here and drink coffee and look out over the beach here," Jackson said as she pointed to the sitting area in front of the house.

It's the simple things she's been missing out on for the past four and a half years.

"To be living like I've been living, in the mold and in the mess, and to finally have a set of keys to a brand new home that is all mine is, I'm so happy," said Jackson.

Hope CDA has rehabbed about 725 homes and built 70 new houses since Katrina.

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