St. Bernard Project

Rebuilding the Homes and Lives of Katrina Survivors

Linda Smith

Linda Smith lives by a core value held dear by many native New Orleanians: community. Despite all that has happened to her, she has made it her mission to visit with sick and elderly members of her community, especially those who have no one to talk to. As soon as she finds out that an elderly person lives alone in her neighborhood, she visits them as soon as possible.

At 54 years old, Ms. Smith has lived in this city her entire life. Before Katrina hit, she recalls, “Everything was great.” She and her daughter, Danielle, worked at Taco Bell and attended church every Sunday. Her 35 year old son, Larry, and his four daughters visited regularly.

Then, as Ms. Smith put it, “Boom! The storm came and everything was different.” There is only one “true word for it,” she said, “a disaster.”

Linda Smith moved to Baton Rouge to stay with her mother for almost three years while trying desperately to get back to her home in New Orleans. Though she was lucky not to have a large amount of water sitting in her home, there was still work to be done.

With the $10,000 she received from FEMA, Ms. Smith put her faith in an electrician to get the house livable. Unfortunately, the electric work was done poorly and soon after the electrician finished, much of the electricity in her house stopped working.

When she went to apply for Road Home funds, Ms. Smith was surprised to find out that her stepbrother had already used her address to file a claim. She did not see any of the money he received.

Tragically, she is currently living in her home but it is in disrepair. There is a lot of work to be done on the roof, siding, windows and floors before it is back to the safe home that a hard-working, community-driven woman like Ms. Smith deserves.

All she wants now is to, “live right here, continue to go to church and try to enjoy some of my life” in New Orleans—her community, her home.

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