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Happy 'Independence Day' Brings Elderly Client Back Home

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Following is a true story that shows how Mercy Housing and Human Development worked together with other non-profit service agencies to help an 82-year-old lady who lost her home to Hurricane Katrina’s flood waters.  The name of the client has been changed to protect her privacy.

Mrs. Jones—a true hurricane survivor—was 82 years old when she was referred to MHHD by the Area Agency on Aging.

Like so many elderly people, she had made the decision in August 2005 to ride out Hurricane Katrina in her east Biloxi apartment because she never had any problems there in the past.  When her first floor apartment completely filled with water from the storm surge, she tried to swim to the second floor.  As she later recalled, “miraculously, out of nowhere a 12-year-old boy came” and pulled the floundering Mrs. Jones to safety in an upstairs apartment.

Somewhat safe, Mrs. Jones began to have chest pains.  It took an ambulance two days to arrive for her after the waters receded and the streets were cleared of debris.  Mrs. Jones was finally admitted to the hospital and was found to have had a massive heart attack.

After she had recuperated there for several weeks, the doctors were faced with a difficult dilemma; her apartment was ruined, and she had nowhere to go.  They had to send her to a nursing home where she quickly became severely depressed.

Her situation was referred to the Area Agency on Aging, and the agency got Mrs. Jones a small FEMA trailer in which to live.  Mrs. Jones was then referred to Mercy Housing and Human Development where we were asked to supply her with household items and bedding.

MHHD also stood ready to provide her with furniture once her apartment was repaired.   Mrs. Jones finally was able to return to her previous apartment on July 4, 2007, almost two years after the hurricane.

She laughingly refers to the day of her homecoming as her own “independence day.”