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West Virginia Builders Help Restore Housing in Biloxi

A delegation of builders from the Home Builders Association of West Virginia traveled to Biloxi, Miss. last month to help families stricken by Hurricane Katrina.

With tools in hand they knew they would be using the skills of their trade to rip down water soaked walls, hang insulation and new drywall, make electrical repairs and work to make homes habitable again. They were not prepared, however, for the utter devastation they saw all around them, even six months after the hurricane.

People were living in their cars and tents. Their homes remained in shambles, if they were there at all. Residents wandered around aimlessly, not knowing what to do next.

The first mission of the team of builders from West Virginia was to rebuild the home of Dorothy Deshauteurs, “a more wonderful and courageous woman you’ll never meet,” as one member of the delegation described her. She and her daughter were living in a FEMA trailer that had been placed on her flooded and ravaged property. Desperate for shelter, several people were trying to get on the list to use the trailer next.

During the hurricane, water had come within inches of the ceiling in Deshauteurs’ home and stayed there for days. The Katrina team removed everything in the house to the studs and worked all week rewiring, plumbing and doing sheet rock work. They put in windows, doors and insulation, as well as new bath fixtures.

Materials were provided through donations from association members and the volunteers on the team paid for their own expenses.

They worked their hearts out trying to get Dorothy back in her home and after a week were just about there, except for getting water hooked up. The only thing lacking was an inspection, which was needed in order to set the toilet. When the team left, Deschauteurs was within a few days of being able to return home. A sign on the front porch summed up her gratitude: “All Is Well With My Soul.”

“As long as I live, I will remember and be grateful for each of you,” Deshauteurs wrote to the home builders association. “This morning I saw a beautiful yellow rose in the yard next to my home that was demolished during the time members were here. Some even took photos, just like Noah’s rainbow, to show us promise that things will one day be beautiful again in our wonderful Gulf Coast.”

Plans are already being made at the association for a return trip.

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