Alabama Students Provide Temporary Local Shelter

Hurricane Katrina basically ruined the inside of Barbra Myers' home.

"The wind blew out the back of my kitchen, the attic window, and so when it is raining, in rains in there," said Myers.

And with exposed wires in the attic, Myers says she's been putting her life at risk by staying here.

But Wednesday afternoon, she was able to lay eyes on what will be her new temporary home, a shipping container, courtesy of Auburn University's College of Architecture, Design and Construction.

"Our students come in and remodel it entirely inside, put sheetrock, carpet, insulation, things like that in it, so it becomes a fairly nice place to live. It's 40x8, 320, 330 square feet inside, so it's a little bit bigger than a FEMA trailer, and a little bit less expensive to do," said Auburn architecture professor D. K. Ruth.

The architecture students had already designed a few of these weather-resistant housing units to help meet the needs of underprivileged communities.

But when Katrina hit, they believed there was a big need in South Mississippi.

"When we got back to Auburn, the architecture design build team had this in place going and we just kind of knew that the Lord was calling us to help out," said social work student Lindsay McGinnis.

"When Katrina hit we were in a meeting with our other professor and one thing lead to another and it snowballed and about 24-48 hours later, we were meeting with the head administration of Auburn University," said Design/Build graduate student Carie Roddy.

And that meeting has equaled a safe place for Barbra Myers, and a sense of accomplishment for all of these students.

"This is a research project for the university and dealing with real people. And when you're dealing with real people, it's very rewarding," said Ruth.

"Angels on earth. Angels on earth. We all have them and I happen to have quite a few," said Myers.

Ms. Myers, whose birthday is Thursday, is the first South Mississippian to receive the temporary shelter. The students will keep in touch with her to see how they can improve the structure in the future.