Coast nonprofits looking to the future 10 years after Katrina - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Coast nonprofits looking to the future 10 years after Katrina

Cynthia Walker, CEO of United Way of South Mississippi (Photo source: WLOX) Cynthia Walker, CEO of United Way of South Mississippi (Photo source: WLOX)
Chris Monforton, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of the MS Gulf Coast (Photo source: WLOX) Chris Monforton, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of the MS Gulf Coast (Photo source: WLOX)
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

It has been a decade since one of the worst storms in history made landfall right at our front door in South Mississippi. In that time, nonprofit organizations and agencies have made a huge impact in our communities.

If you look closely in Cynthia Walker's office, you'll still find reminders of a storm that happened 10 years ago.

"We don't want to forget this history that we have," said Walker.

Documents, logs and charts have all been compiled over the last decade and saved in a couple of boxes in Walker's office. As CEO of the United Way of South Mississippi, it's Walker's job to have a plan in place in case another natural disaster stares down our area.

She said the storm revealed the United Way's strengths and weaknesses. Searching through the Katrina records has taught her agency what needs to be done to make the next recovery effort more efficient.

"Then you get more done, and when you get more done, the response is quicker for those in need," said Walker. 

Her organization helps place volunteers and agencies in the areas of most need. Agencies like Habitat for Humanity. Habitat has seen its impact expand in a huge way since the hurricane. 

Before the storm, the Jackson County and Harrison County branches would build a couple of houses a year. That has changed in the last decade.

"Our staff and our volunteers are coming up on the 1,000th home here locally," said Chris Monforton.

Monforton says the two agencies came together as one. As CEO of the merged Habitat for Humanity of the Gulf Coast, Monforton led his team in deciding how Hurricane Katrina would affect their future.

"A number of years ago, we made the decision that Katrina was in our rear view mirror," Monforton said.

Since then, when asked what the future looks like, Monforton says it looks promising.

"Our response to that is that we're going to continue doing what we've been doing over the past 10 years, and that's working with hard working families and building homes and communities," said Monforton.

For seven out of the past 10 years, Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast has held the top spot for most houses built in the nation.

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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