My name is Blondieva Alexander-Gines, and I am a survivor, not a victim, of Katrina.
I live in Biloxi, Mississippi, and this is my house. Volunteers built this house two years ago. Then, after the hurricane filled the house with four feet of water, it was filled with volunteers once again. This is the house that charity built twice.
On Sunday, August 28, 2005, my baby sister called and said, “This storm is going to be bad.” She was packing her family and our father, who has Alzheimer’s disease, to go to her son’s house in Columbus, Georgia. I stayed a just few more hours – long enough to direct my church choir, because the members were already at church, dressed and ready to sing – and then left with my family and our two dogs for a friend’s house in Hope Hull, Alabama. We packed only enough clothes and shoes to change into the next day. We thought we were going to turn around and go back home after the storm.
On my way to Hope Hull, I talked to a friend who decided to stay home and ride out the storm. She told me that she was going to stay and trust the Lord. I told her that I trust the Lord, but He said obedience is better than sacrifice, and it was mandatory for us to leave our home. Early Monday morning, August 29, 2005, she called my cell phone again. She didn’t say hello, but was screaming “Oh my God! Oh my God!” I kept asking her what was wrong and she told me that water was up to her porch. I told her to call 911 and get out of there. She was able to get out, and when she called again, it was to say our homes were destroyed. My house had about 4 feet of water in it; my sister’s had water up to the roof. Everything was lost.
I had moved into my house less than a year before, after Habitat for Humanity dedicated it on December 19, 2004. My mother died the morning of the dedication, and I did not want to attend, but the Lord gave me the strength to speak. In 2005, I bought new furniture, Victorian living room furniture, which was delivered just weeks before the storm. We lost all of it, along with most of our clothes, but I thank the Lord that we did not lose our lives. I’m not caught up in material things. Don’t get me wrong -- we need material things. But don’t get so caught up in them that if something should happen, you would lose your mind over it. I know the Lord didn’t give me this house only to take it away. He had something better for me; that’s the attitude I have.
For three months after the storm, we went back and forth from my oldest sister’s house in Kentucky to Biloxi, where we lived in a FEMA trailer and met with insurance adjusters. I had home-owner’s insurance, but my insurance adjuster said they would only pay for wind damage to the roof and nothing else. I didn’t see any way of repairing my house, being a single parent. I have a daughter, with me in this picture, and two sons. One was in the Marine Reserve and serving in Iraq for a second time when the storm hit.
Then Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia returned and saved my house. (Read the volunteers’ story here and learn how you can help them help others.) I thank the Lord for the love, the care, and the concern of the volunteers. Without the volunteers and Habitat for Humanity, I don’t know what I would have done. The Lord touched their hearts to help me restore my home, and not only mine, but many, many more homes. I just want to tell them thank you from the bottom of my heart. I pray that the Lord will continue to bless, strengthen, and smile upon you forever. I love you and appreciate each and every one for everything thing they have done to restore my home. God bless you.