HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Nine days before the fifth anniversary of that horrible day that most coast residents will never forget, a single dad's dream of having a home for his children has finally come true.
Hurricane Katrina left the family without a permanent place to call home. But thanks to a non-profit organization, South Coast Design-Build, Paul Patin and his three children are about to replant their roots in Henderson Point.
"It's a wonderful feeling, because it's been so long that the housing situation has been temporary, temporary, temporary," Patin said. "So it's going to be a great feeling to be able to come home, work in your yard. You don't have to go anywhere. So I'm going to enjoy it; my kids are going to enjoy it."
Katrina wiped out the very first house he owned. After that, Patin went from a FEMA trailer to a MEMA cottage.
"It's just a feeling of not knowing where you're going to be from day to day with the temporary housing situation that was here with the cottages and the trailers. And it's been a fight over the past five years to actually get settled down again."
Patin said that may not have happened if it wasn't for South Coast Design Build , a non-profit organization that uses college students to build homes from beginning to end.
"I'm proud of the students that have made this happen," said the organization's director, Leah McBride. "They are all architecture and interior design students that probably didn't know one end of the hammer from another, but they were out here to help Paul design his home and banged every nail on the job site to see it built."
"The students from Virginia Tech, and all the other volunteer students from around the United States, wonderful group of people," Patin said. "They came in, sat with me, designed this home from scratch. It was a life changing experience. Wonderful people."
Patin said if it wasn't for their help, he would have been forced to leave the coast.
"It just gives me some type of security and gives my children some type of security. We actually have a home that's going to be ours. It won't be long before everything will be back to normal."
South Coast Design-Build has finished three homes in West Harrison County, and they'd like to build even more for Katrina victims. The group is trying to win the Pepsi Refresh the Gulf Contest, which comes with a $50,000 prize. You can cast your vote or just learn more about the group at http://www.southcoastdesignbuild.org/. You can vote once a day until August 31.