Missouri Builders Help Katrina Refugees Start a New Life
The Home Builders Association of St. Louis & Eastern Missouri has come to the rescue of Aaron and Carolyn Hoffmann and their two children, Michael and Paige, who settled in Missouri with family members after losing their home in Metairie, La. to flooding from Hurricane Katrina.
The Hoffman family was able to settle in Missouri with help from the HBA of St. Louis & Eastern Missouri after the family lost their home to flooding from Hurricane Katrina.
Aaron Hoffman couldn’t return to the family’s home in Louisiana for six weeks after their evacuation from the devastated area, and when he did, there was not much left to recover.
After the flood waters receded, the mold began to grow. “It was in all the closets, all the cabinets, even growing on the ceiling,” Aaron said. He was able to retrieve some decorative plates and a few boxes of books and photos the family had stowed in the attic before they evacuated and his computer, which held files for his freelance design business.
In the meantime, the association informed volunteer leaders at the Habitat for Humanity chapter in St. Charles, Mo. that it was seeking to build a new home for a family relocating to Missouri from the Gulf Coast. Habitat selected the Hoffman family, and HBA and Habitat volunteers broke ground in December.
“I enjoyed being a part of it, it was the first time I ever had any part of something like that,” said Scott Kerns of Vantage Homes, who headed up the project.
“Scott made the project happen,” said Shelly Stengel, senior staff vice president for public affairs and marketing at the HBA. Kerns parlayed $85,000 in donated cash, materials and labor into a new home for the Hoffmanns.
“My subcontractors were awesome,” Kerns said, offering supplies and materials for free or below cost to complete the project. More than 90 HBA builder and associate members made contributions to the Hoffmann family’s home.
The Hoffmanns helped too, exceeding Habitat’s requirement for putting in 350 hours of “sweat equity” by bringing in extended family and friends to work on the home, including preparing the work site for the next sub as each stage of construction progressed.
By late April, with the house completed, Habitat and the HBA handed the keys over to the Hoffmann family, surrounded by association members, volunteers and members of the press.
“It’s great. It looks great,” said Aaron Hoffmann, who has returned to his freelance graphic arts work and has a page design job at a local newspaper as his family works to start over. Right now, they’re buying new furniture, a little at a time.
Scott Kerns, meanwhile, is ready for the next project. “It was rewarding for me to be involved, I enjoyed it. I would do it again, absolutely,” he said.
For more information, e-mail Calli Schmidt at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.