My name is Trenace Walker. I was born and raised in New Orleans. I lived in the 7th ward until Hurricane Katrina. I lost everything in my house, and I was waiting out the storm with my family in my neighbor’s house. We were there for a week when airboats came and brought us to some armored trucks which then brought us to the airport. That night we slept at the airport and the next day I boarded an airplane for the first time. I didn’t know where it was going until they told us we were headed for Washington, DC. I didn’t know anyone in DC! We stayed in the DC Armory stadium for a month and then the Red Cross found us housing in Virginia. We stayed in the DC area for about 8 months. There was a job fair for evacuees held at the Armory and I got connected to a job on a construction site.
My mom had evacuated to Mississippi because she was really sick with cancer. I had to go back to Mississippi to take care of her. I met a lady at the airport in Jackson who wanted to help Katrina survivors, so she offered to pay my way back to Mississippi so I could attend my mother’s funeral, which happened a few weeks later.
I decided to come back to New Orleans in June 2006. I moved into my mama’s house in the 7th ward while it was getting repaired. I was so glad to be back in the city where I grew up even if it would take some time for the city to get it back together.
Right after my mom died, I decided I wanted to buy a house – it was one of my mom’s goals that she was never able to achieve. Over time I heard about different programs and talked with people. Some of the fears that held me back were not knowing how the process would go, did I have what I needed to move forward, and would my credit be a problem. I have always been a workaholic, but I didn’t have a helping hand to guide me along in the process. Finally when I was encouraged by my coworker, my landlord, and a family member who owns a Habitat house, I decided to take that step and give it a try.
Now I’m happy and proud because I am achieving one of the goals that my mom didn’t have a chance to reach. I found my new house back in the neighborhood where I was born and raised. My hopes and dreams for the house are to live and be happy, and enjoy my backyard and porch. I’m looking forward to opening that front door with my own key knowing “this is mine.” As long as you believe, you can achieve, just keep on striving. This is not a stop here, there’s even more to come!