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After Katrina, a Happy Thanksgiving for Ala. Family

Sharli and Jody Schultz sit in the living room of their renovated home in Bayou La Batre, Ala., with their son, Jamis (center).
Tracy Wahl, NPR
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Sharli and Jody Schultz sit in the living room of their renovated home in Bayou La Batre, Ala., with their son, Jamis (center).
The Schultz family has been living in a trailer, seen outside their house, since two weeks after Hurricane Katrina.
Tracy Wahl, NPR /
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The Schultz family has been living in a trailer, seen outside their house, since two weeks after Hurricane Katrina.

Shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck, Jody and Sharli Schultz and their son, Jamis, were unsure whether they'd be able to keep their house in Bayou La Batre, Ala. It had been in the family for generations, but damage from the storm had left the home in danger of being condemned by the city.

Three months later -- unlike most of their neighbors on Shellbelt Road -- the Schultzes have been able to renovate the interior of their house. Jody Schultz has done most of the work on the house -- which had once belonged to his grandmother -- himself, before and after work.

"This is my husband's family's home, and it's the only home we've got," says Sharli Schultz. "We wanted to get back in it quick."

Thanks to help from a church that donated a new roof and labor for some of the reconstruction, and donations from Volunteer America, the Schultzes have been able to replace all of the appliances in their house and get new drywall and paint on the walls. After an article appeared in the Orlando Sentinel about the family, a woman in Florida sent a check for $500 to contribute to the work.

The Schultzes hope to have their first meal in their renovated house on Thanksgiving Day.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott can be heard telling stories from her native South. She covers the latest news and politics, and is attuned to the region's rich culture and history.