It’s hard to visit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast without thinking about Hurricane Katrina. I was in the region a couple of weeks for a Coldwell Banker event and was reminded of storm’s fury by watching Channel 1 in my Gulfport hotel room, the “Katrina” channel.

I watched as several employees at the former Gulfport Holiday Inn recorded their hotel’s demise. I watched as they stood knee deep in water. But soon, at least eight feet, including waves, cascaded through forcing the videographers to scurry up the steps. But they still managed to record a car floating past couches and chairs into the lobby.

It was a powerful example of how much the area had to rebuild. And, in a small way Coldwell Banker Real Estate helped in that effort.

Habitat build Slidell A Home Built Out of Katrina

Six years ago, we donated the funds to build two Habitat for Humanity homes in Slidell, Louisiana. Along with agents and staff of Coldwell Banker TEC in New Orleans, we partnered with native son Chris Duhon, then the captain of the Chicago Bulls and currently with the Los Angeles Lakers, to work at the Habitat build site and raise awareness for housing needs in the region.

All of these years later, I had the opportunity to revisit that build site. I took exit 263 off of I-10 and after a couple of turns I was right back where there was once a construction site. Today, Maple Street was a neighborhood. The two houses we started were joined by so many more.

I smiled as a young boy shot baskets at his house across the street from the homes we helped build. His mom, who went to high school with Chris, had no idea the Slidell hero had once helped build their neighbor’s homes. As she spoke, her son made three straight shots. Chris would have been proud.

I then stopped for a shrimp po’boy down the road (wow are they good!) and learned that Slidell has rebounded well. The worker at Kenney Seafood told me Slidell has more residents today than pre-Katrina. That was good to hear.

I had always wondered what became of those two houses we helped build. Now I know. No longer are they houses. Today, they are homes.