BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Our Hand It On segment this week is rather unconventional. Photographer, Brandon Shackelford, and I went driving around, touring flood affected areas. It was heartbreaking to see just how many families have yet to move back into their homes, now a full eight months after August floods.
We drove through neighborhoods simply at random. Then we picked out a FEMA trailer in one of those neighborhoods, again at random, and knocked on the door. Even though she was not exactly in her right place, she was in the right place at the right time.
"Yes, good morning," a sweet voice whispered from the half-opened door.
"Hey. I'm Johnny Ahysen from Channel 9. Do you have a second to chat," I asked.
"Yes," she replied. "But just for a minute. I'm headed out to a doctor appointment."
Her name is Mary Lucas. She was on her way to a follow up appointment with her cardiologist after recent heart surgery. Mary had a triple bypass.
"My biggest challenge right now is getting the house fixed," Mary explained. "I don't want to put my money into it that I have from my husband's and my retirement because I don't know how long I'm gonna' live. I need my money to live off of," Mary stated.
A widow of several years, Mary was depending on her flood insurance to cover most, if not all, the costs to repair her home. However, with her recent illness and subsequent heart surgery, Mary failed to renew her flood insurance policy.
"So right now, I'm waiting for the state," Mary said. "The state is supposed to give out some more money to get us back into the house."
"Well," I began with a grin. "WAFB has a program called Hand It On. We just arbitrarily picked this neighborhood and arbitrarily picked this FEMA trailer to visit. So as luck would have it, the Hand It On program is going to give you $300 cash to do whatever you want to do with it."
Mary was noticeably touched by the gesture as I handed her the money.
"Will this help," I asked, trying to break her silence as she held the cash in disbelief.
"Yes it will. I'm going to buy groceries," Mary said quietly. "Thank you. Thanks a million!"
To nominate someone for Hand It On, please send me an email with your nomination to HandItOn@wafb.com. Make sure you include your contact information, especially your phone number.