State Agency Weatherizes, Repairs Gulfport Homes

Usually, sheetrock replacement isn't part of the Gulf Coast Community Action Agency's weatherization program. But Hurricane Katrina wasn't a normal storm, so the rules changed. Ron Anderson enforces those rules.

"It allows you to do a lot more in the community and it's appreciated," the program director said.

Anderson came down from Jackson to put a low income home energy assistance program to good use.

"I'm actually here just to go to the community and just give back," he said.

Because of hurricane damage, homes in Gulfport's Forest Heights subdivision with up to four feet of sheetrock damage qualified for weatherization assistance.

The timing of this work "is just perfect. It's just perfect," said Wanda Lewis.

She represents the Gulf Coast Community Action Agency on this disaster project. Her team is spraying insulation into attics, and in the process, bringing down power bills.

"We sat down and we focused on what we could do for the homes that are still standing," she said.

At the same time, volunteers are replacing interior walls damaged by the hurricane. Lewis said the project has one basic goal, "get residents back into their homes."

Right now, Gulf Coast Community Action Agency has five different crews weatherizing and repairing homes. In less than a week, they've prepped and rewalled two dozen Forest Heights properties. And the agency has enough state funding to make sure 50 homeowners can move back into a cleaner, more energy efficient dwelling.

"In looking at it, it's a little more detailed than we thought," Anderson said, describing all the work his team has been required to do. "But I tell you, by the time we finish, you'll feel really good about it."

Here's how the Gulf Coast Community Action Agency chose the 50 hurricane damaged homes it's repairing. The owners had to live in Forest Heights. They had be considered low income elderly residents, somebody in the home had to be handicapped, or the family had to have young children.