Katrina evacuee is latest recipient of Habitat home

November 20, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - With a wide smile spread across her face, Rana Rose hugged nearly everyone who came near her Sunday afternoon.

It was the day she received the keys to her new home in Hagerstown, far from the one she evacuated in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina devastated the area more than one year ago.

But she didn't have the keys for long.

Her 6-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, quickly snatched them from her mother's hands and showed them to the people gathered in her new living room for the dedication of Washington County's 24th Habitat for Humanity home.

Construction on the 1,100-square-foot home on Berner Avenue began in April, said Sherry Brown Cooper, executive director. The home has three bedrooms and one bathroom.


Cooper said Rose, like other Habitat homeowners, spent at least 500 hours of what is called "sweat equity" building her home or Habitat houses.

Rose's home was fully sponsored by First Data. The First Data Western Union Foundation provided more than a half-million dollars to build eight houses in cities across the country for Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

Rose has been living in the Hagerstown area for about a year.

She and her daughter fled New Orleans one day before the hurricane slammed into the Gulf Coast city. Rose said they left with only about two days worth of clothing.

When they returned to their home about a month after the hurricane struck, everything was destroyed.

"We lost everything," she said. "We had no money, just (some) clothes."

Rose said Sunday that she was looking forward to decorating her new home, and said one of the first things she will do is paint her daughter's room pink.

"Being in my own home again is just wonderful," she said.

After taking the keys to the new home, Aaliyah ran to the doorway to what she claimed as her own room, and stood there grinning.

Rose and her daughter said they were looking forward to moving into the home Tuesday.

"This is a big blessing for me," Rose said. "I'm happy to live here."

Aaliyah said she was anxious to move because of her noisy neighbors.

"There's no noise from upstairs now," she said, referring to her new home. "This is a regular house. I like it. We're going to have all fun times here."

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