Elderly Woman Seeks Help With Home Repairs

An elderly woman wants to rebuild her storm damaged home in East Biloxi. Trouble is, her insurance settlement isn't nearly enough to cover the cost of repairs.

It's a plight facing many home owners.

The house on Lameuse has been her home for decades.

"'67 I believe. About forty years," said Audrey Winkelhake, when asked how long she's owned her small, wood frame house on Lameuse Street.

She wants to keep her home. She's already paid for some initial repairs.

"Anyway, they wanted too much to finish. And I couldn't afford it. So, I had to let them go you know. Just to do these four rooms and the bathroom, they wanted $30,000," she said.

Although she owns the home, the elderly woman says she can't afford a big repair bill. Moving would also be costly.

"Well, everybody says you know tear down the place. But you tear down the place, what are you supposed to use to build back a house?" she wondered aloud.

She managed to salvage just a few dishes and other belongings after Katrina washed some seven feet of water into the house.

Audrey Winkelhake no doubt represents a large number of home owners facing a similar plight. They are the people that own their own homes, had limited insurance coverage and now face a significant cost to repair or rebuild.

Though she's thankful for a FEMA trailer, Winkelhake would much rather be back in her house. She's hoping someone will lend a hand with repairs.

"Golly yeah, I need some help," she says.

It's the kind of help she never imagined needing. But few people ever imagined Katrina.

"No. Never. Everywhere you go it's terrible," said Winkelhake.

Audrey Winkelhake is retired from the VA and still works part time at a seafood plant. She's now looking for some church or volunteer group that might help with the home repairs.