Students on mission trips help rebuild flooded homes

Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: Harris family
Source: Harris family

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - As part of their mission trips, high school and college students from across the country and in Baton Rouge are helping fix flooded homes.

"I've been here all our lives, born and raised on this property," said Louis Harris, who built his Denham Springs home himself in 1978.

For nearly 40 years, Louis and Marguerite Harris have lived in the same home, up until August of 2016 when almost five feet of murky water inundated the couple's home, taking with it their vehicles and their belongings. Since then, they have been living in a FEMA trailer on their property.

"We had a camper over there. Went and got in it and the next morning, we were four feet deep in the camper and someone came and got us in a boat," said Harris.

Ten months later, tiles are being installed in their home thanks to volunteers.

"I'm from Louisville, Kentucky. I go to Sacred Heart Academy. I'm about to be a senior," said Colleen Gates.

From Baton Rouge, the Most Blessed Sacrament Church has partnered with the St. Bernard Project to fix homes such as the Harris' house. The Harris family did not have flood insurance. Louis is disabled and says they only received FEMA money to restore their home. Thanks to these young volunteers, their home has been gutted, sheet-rocked, and now tiled.

"It makes me cry when I talk to them because it's very touching to see young kids do what they're doing," said Harris.

"I just think it's fun to see people. If you hear someone say, 'Thank you, that really made a difference.' I like that more than laying on the beach. I just really like helping people," said Gates.

Along with helping people, the students are learning about manual labor and the true devastation south Louisiana continues to face post-flood.

"We're bringing love back to our community, we're making them whole again. We're bringing them back together," said Most Blessed Sacrament Church's youth minister, West Giffin.

The teens will be in town all week, working on damaged homes from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day.

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