In 2005, immediately after Katrina, Eddie purchased a gutted house to fulfill his dream of becoming a homeowner. He made outstanding progress until he realized that he had purchased contaminated drywall. Even with limited funds and a poor demand for trucking services, Eddie perseveres because, he says, “I want something to pass on to my grandchildren.”
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Eddie Miller became a trucker late in life at the age of 37, but he still insists that he’s been everywhere. If you listen to him talk for any length of time, it’s easy to believe. He has a story about every major city in America and Canada and an impeccable memory for obscure roads and bridges. He says that the most dangerous bridge he’s ever driven was in Mt. Shasta, California where you can feel the structure sway in the wind, but local drivers see no problem in passing.
But Eddie knows no place better than Louisiana. While many travelers find the confusing twists and contours of the roads following the Mississippi barely navigable, Eddie knows how to get anywhere because it’s home.
Before moving to Violet, Eddie and his family lived down the river in Belle Chase. Eddie’s nephew purchased a house in St. Bernard Parish in 2001, taking a job with the local sheriff’s office. Eddie soon followed, renting an apartment a few blocks away. The neighborhood was an idyllic suburban community. Neighbors looked out for one another and knew each other. It was a comfortable place to raise children, knowing that everyone was contributing to the effort, and Eddie dreamed of buying his own home in the neighborhood.
Then the storm came. Eddie and the rest of the family evacuated, but he lost his car, his truck, and his livelihood in the flood. Nevertheless, Eddie and his relatives decided to return home.
Eddie replaced his truck and decided to fulfill his dream of homeownership by purchasing the gutted house next door to his nephew’s home. He hired local contractors to do the plumbing and electric and was setting up to finish the work so that he could finally move in. The next step was to install drywall. Eddie’s church donated some to get him started, and he purchased the rest himself. He had just finished the kitchen when he realized that the drywall was contaminated.
Shortly thereafter the economy took a turn for the worse and with it so did the demand for local trucking. Now, Eddie can only find work once or twice a week, barely enough to break even. Though he loves the work, Eddie is no longer able to drive cross-country. “Trucking is a young man’s work,” he explains, “I wish I had gotten into it sooner.” Eddie’s house is only half finished, and he no longer has the money to complete the job between covering his business expenses, rent, and mortgage.
Eddie has not given up hope, though. He purchased his house and has never lost sight of his ultimate goal: to live in his own home. “I want something to pass on to my grandchildren,” he says.