Since the flood of 2016, Latasha Zachary of White Castle had endured daily living in a 70-year-old mold-filled trailer with a caved-in roof and a sagging, water-logged floor.
“The only safe part was my bedroom and the back bathroom.”
Latasha didn’t want to move because the nursing home where her mother lived was across the street, but the situation was dire. The $5,000 from FEMA to fix the roof and floor only went so far, and when a contractor incorrectly installed a blue tarp, “the roof caved in. One of the rooms was constantly raining. It was ruined.”
The sheetrock was soaked and cracked open, so Latasha shoved plastic grocery bags into the walls to protect the electrical sockets from dripping water.
“It was really awful,” she said, exhaling deeply to expel the memory. “Then the rats got in the roof.”
Latasha applied for help with the Louisiana Conference, which has faithfully responded. Her case was passed from one caseworker to another as the church regrouped to respond to the 1,000-year flood.
Then, disaster case manager Mallory Carpenter took over. She visited Latasha’s home and was appalled by the conditions, calling it “one of the worst I’ve ever seen. In most areas of the roof, it was just crumbling and falling apart. She had a tarp to keep the water out, but the ceiling had just caved in, insulation was coming in and it was…ugh.”
Mallory knew Latasha had been patient – by then it had been nearly two years since the flood – and she encouraged her to hang on.
“She said, ‘Ms. Zachary, I’m going to see what I can do,’” Latasha said. “But I heard that so much I didn’t think too much of it.”
Meanwhile, the kitchen in the trailer was deemed a safety hazard and couldn’t pass inspection, so Latasha had to give up cooking meals for other low-income families. “She was very upset,” Mallory said.
Then in September of 2018, Mallory called Latasha with the news that the Conference Office of Missional Outreach and Engagement was going to replace the trailer instead of sinking money into the old one.
“I started crying,” Latasha said. “I thought I was going to be in that condition for a long time.”
Thank You of a Different Kind
Most people who learn they are getting a new home might rush out to pick out new furniture or drapes, but not Latasha. She called Don’s Sportsman Shop, a trophy shop in nearby Brusly.
“I called them and said I need two plaques. These people are blessing me, and I’m trying to thank them.”
A salesman at the trophy shop helped Latasha with the wording, and she presented the plaques – one for the Louisiana Conference and one for Mallory – before she ever stepped foot in her new trailer.
“No one had ever gone out there and done something like that for me,” Latasha said. “A lot of people knew the condition I was living in, but no one went to that extent to help me out. I was really appreciative for what they were doing.”
Mallory said she was “tickled to death. It was very rewarding.”
Today, Latasha is in her new three-bedroom, two-bath trailer and still is thankful for the Louisiana Conference and their help.
“They didn’t have to what they did. They could have said no, but they didn’t. They went above and beyond to give me a comfortable place to stay. You don’t find too many people who do that for nothing in return.”