A New Beginning

A New Beginning

She lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. Then volunteers built this Louisiana senior a new house, porch swing included.

Like thousands of other New Orleans residents, Gertrude LeBlanc’s home was totally destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in August, 2005. When she returned to her devastated neighborhood after the storm, her house and porch were gone; only the brick front steps remained.

LeBlanc moved into a trailer behind the former site of her house with her daughter and granddaughter. All she wants, she says, is her house back with her porch, her swing and her rocker. Now, thanks to a group of volunteers, LeBlanc is getting just that. This video featured on The Digital Journalist (DigitalJournalist.org) was produced by Peter Power and Janice Pinto at the 2008 Platypus Workshop in New Orleans, and was distinguished with the “Best Story” award. The Platypus Workshops are intensive 9-day digital video training programs, conducted under the tutelage of decorated photojournalist Dirck Halstead, the editor and publisher of The Digital Journalist.

The video includes interviews with LeBlanc and views of her devastated neighborhood, and volunteers at work on her home. LeBlanc says the neighborhood, where people once sat on their porches enjoying themselves, is now a ghost town. Hers will be the first new house to be built on the block. In a moving scene, LeBlanc is surprised to find the crowning touch on her brand new abode — a new porch swing installed by the volunteers, waiting for her to try it out.

Length: 4:43

By Peter Power and Janice Pinto