BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Baton Rouge woman who launched a massive bird rescue effort in the days following Hurricane Katrina has now found herself in need of help.
It's Donna Powell's amazing love for birds that keeps her going. The love is so strong, she took in more than 300 exotic birds following Katrina, nursed them back to health, and reunited them with their owners over the years.
Now though, it is her that needs a little love in return. The historic flooding in August wiped out her entire life, the remnants of it now scattered across her front lawn.
Powell said it is hard to see everything she worked so hard for by the curb, but what is most heartbreaking is seeing her feathered friends' cages destroyed.
She has nine birds, including Macy, who has been with her since Katrina. Unfortunately, since the flooding, she has had to house her birds in smaller cages until she can replace them with bigger ones. The toys and other items they love are also gone. Powell said not being able to care for the majestic animals the way she used to is devastating.
"I mean, I've taken on the responsibility of those birds and I feel I need to meet that responsibility and meet their needs before my needs are met," she said.
Neil Bernard admires his mom's dedication, but admits the recovery so far has been tough. He tries to help out as much as possible, but said the real challenge is finding the time.
"She's not as young as she used to be and sometimes, you know, she tries to bite off a bit more than she can chew," Bernard said. "The balance between everything with work, school, and cleaning up in the house, it's a lot, you know. It's overwhelming."
Inside the house, most everything is stripped down and ready to be rebuilt, but what is most important is making sure every inch of the home is mold free before the birds can be brought back inside.
"Birds have very sensitive respiratory systems, so all the mold and mildew in the house, all that has got to be completely eradicated or I mean literally, it will kill them. It'll affect them a lot worse than it'll affect us," Bernard added.
While the road to recovery will be a long one, Powell said instead of stressing over the small things, she is choosing to value what really matters.
"The lives of the people and the animals I think is more valuable than stuff," Powell said.
For more information about how you can help, visit www.powellrescue.com.