BAY ST. LOUIS (WLOX) -- As dignitaries celebrated the one year anniversary of the Knight's Inn opening, Debra Lala checked out guests. She got the job nine months ago, after Katrina pummeled her home in Mandeville, Louisiana.
"I believe working here probably took it off my mind. They're still working on my home in Mandeville. It will probably be another year before it is repaired, but I'm enjoyingit so much here that I probably will keep my home in Mandeville, but it will be my second home instead of my first home," Lala said.
Lala said this isn't exactly how she had mapped out her life, but she's enjoying life's unexpected turn.
"I love it here. I love the job. I was with bell South for 35 years in public relations, and this is really what I've wanted to do, is work at a hotel, so it's home to me," said Lala.
The Knight's Inn sprang to life after Katrina. The storm badly damaged the hotel, which was formerly known as the Studio Inn. General Manager James Loew says the 120 room hotel has had a good year.
"A year ago, we came here. It was almost a ghost town. No traffic, no nothing. Since then, the whole area has grown. We've been lucky to be a part of it, and we want to contiue be a part to continue the growth of the city and the county," Loew said.
Loew said the Knight's Inn is booked solid most weekends and has a near full occupancy rate during the week. He says most of the hotel's patrons are volunteers and tourists, a sure sign the area as a whole is rebounding.
"For the next year, I want to continue to the growth with the community. One business can't grow by itself. It takes everyone working together," said Loew.