When Hurricane Katrina hit the coast of Louisiana back in 2005, the nation looked on in helpless horror as the storm barreled down on the state. It was immediately obvious that this wasn’t going to be your run of the mill storm, and people here at Habitat quickly began mobilizing to help.

Long-time volunteer Vince Stritcherz recently sat down to talk about his memories of flying down to Katrina with the Habitat SKC team. New Orleans is a meaningful place to Vince since he and his wife were married there and lived in the city for several years. From his time living there, he knew the dangers hurricanes presented to the area.

Vince also knew that one of the worst things that could happen was for the hurricane to narrowly miss the city and drive water up onto land. On a gloomy day on August 29th, 2005 that is exactly what happened.

Vince looked back on the situation with a frown. “Many of the people we met when we arrived felt as if they had been forgotten. Their houses might have been swept away or they were still living in FEMA trailers. Others suffered serious damage to their homes. In many cases their jobs are gone, their friends had perhaps died or moved away, and their sense of community has been seriously damaged. A lot of people I met there had been left to pay mortgages on homes that no longer exist. It was a terrible situation.”

Vince made three separate trips down to New Orleans with other Habitat for Humanity Seattle – King County volunteers. His team there worked to finish two houses under construction, then helped to frame another. It is reassuring to know that there are people out there willing to drop everything and go make a real difference in people’s lives. Volunteers like Vince aren’t just important to Habitat for Humanity, they are the backbone of our organization.