It’s been more than seven years since Hurricane Katrina left up to five feet of water in his Gentilly house. But Harold Lyons is almost back home.
It’s the second of a two-weekend effort by Rebuilding Together New Orleans, called the October Build — formerly called Christmas in October. Volunteers are working on a dozen homes in the city, painting, siding, building wheelchair ramps and fences. They represent 17 local companies and organizations. At Mr. Lyons house in the Edgewood Park neighborhood, it’s the final piece of rebuilding before he moves back home. It started with FEMA.
“I think they really tried to help everybody. But they were so huge and all the paperwork got lost in the shuffle. And you had to redo everything four or five times. And it just went on and on like that," Lyons said. "They was out there trying to help you but they didn’t know how to do it.”
He was eventually referred to Rebuilding Together, and volunteers from around the country arrived to help.
“They’ve been going on since March and I’ve talked to a lot of volunteers, workers, and people from Ohio, Indiana University, West Virginia University. They all came down here spring break and did a lot of work. All you have to do is look at the American flag and that’s what we are. The people help each other.”
Lyons says that all he needs now are permits to hook up utilities and he’s back in the home he bought in 1971 — possibly to host Thanksgiving dinner.