WLOX Viewers Answer Storm Victim's Call For Help

The Hancock County man who lost his wife and home during Hurricane Katrina has gotten the help he needed to continue progress on rebuilding his home.

You may recall 69-year-old Wilbur LaFleur of Lakeshore was left alone to finish building the house after his son had to return to Iraq. After LaFleur's story aired on WLOX TV, we were flooded with calls from people wanting to help him.

Two weeks ago LaFleur told us, "I have all the material. Just looking for somebody to help. It's kind of hard putting up roof rafters by yourself. All I need is just an extra hand. Hopefully somebody will hear us."

Some kind hearted WLOX viewers heard his appeal and volunteered to give him the hands he needed. Members of the Sandford Missionary Church near Hattiesburg and workers from the Navy's Oceanographic Office at Stennis Space Center spent Wednesday helping LaFleur put a new roof on his house.

"I saw ya'lls news station. We called the station. Ya'll helped us out, got us in touch with him. We just felt we had to come help him. The Lord has blessed us, been good to us. We thought we had it bad at home until we come down here," Richard Woolwine of Sandford Missionary Baptist Church said.

Woolwine and his church group took time off of their day jobs to come to Lakeshore to help LaFleur. Five oceanographers from Stennis did the same.

"Allen and Katherine Foster saw the news report and just felt this overwhelming urge to go out there, so they rounded up a bunch of us," Bethany Robb, a scientist at the Oceanographic Office, said.

LaFleur was overwhelmed with the kindness.

"I'm so grateful to you and WLOX, the response from all the people."

LaFleur says it probably would have taken him months to do the work himself. His son and a few of his friends helped frame the house before the son had to return to Iraq. His only regret is his wife Connie, who died in the storm, won't get to enjoy the house with him.

"I walked away from here yesterday and I had gone to the trailer to get something and I looked back and tears started rolling down my eyes looking at this and not being able to share it with her."

But through the tragedy, LaFleur says he's met some new friends for life.

by Al Showers