The high winds and flooding from Hurricane Katrina caused extensive damage to the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts when it roared ashore on the morning of August 29, 2005. Watch this video to see the incredible damage caused by the storm, along with the rebuilding efforts that are underway.

Other topics covered include:

  • Hurricane resistant building practices.
  • Dealing with mold and mildew caused by flooding.
  • Health issues caused by mold and mildew.
  • Volunteer efforts to rebuild after the storm.

Further Information


Danny Lipford: It’s been almost two years since hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, and there’s a lot left to be done, but progress is being made.

Announcer: Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford, the voice of home improvement with projects, tips and ideas to help you improve your home.

Danny Lipford: Because I live along the Gulf Coast people ask me all the time, “Is everything back to normal after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina?” Well you can see there’s a long ways to go, but this week we want to focus on a lot of the bright spots where volunteers and homeowners are really working together to rebuild their homes and their lives, and some of the lessons they’ve learned along the way. Stay with us.

Danny Lipford: Before Hurricane Katrina hit this area of the Mississippi Gulf Coast there were beautiful homes all along this stretch of the coast. Now most of those homes are gone or damaged pretty severely, but the rebuilding efforts are well underway. And the homes they are building are much stronger than the homes that they had here before.

Now when we visited here just a few weeks after Katrina, it was amazing how much damage there was all over the place. And it really gave us a lot of respect for a monster storm like that, but what really struck us was the spirit and the optimism throughout this whole community and we saw some people that were determined to rebuild their homes. One of those individuals was Mark Ashley, and we checked in with him recently to see how he and his family were holding up and rebuilding their home.

Mark Ashley: I can’t be more proud of my family for what they’ve had to deal with. I’ve got three teenagers in a two bedroom house, and although we have the nightly spats of who’s in who’s space they have done amazing, and I couldn’t be more proud of that group. It’s been a year or so since we were here last and that time it was a mess, but we’re now under construction. I’m still a few months away but we’re just thrilled to be this far along. From being in the house the first time and watching a roof fall away it became important to me to understand more about how houses are put together, and have learned through this process that the connections from starting with top shingle all the way to how the foundation is tied together is an important part of keeping your home together in hurricane areas like this.

Danny Lipford: When we talked to Mark a few months after the hurricane, he told us about his experience riding out the storm inside his home, and though he was still in the cleanup recovery mode, even then he was looking ahead towards rebuilding his family’s home. Now what seemed like a dream back then has started to become a reality over the last few months, as Mark and his contractor begin putting together his new home. But the wheels haven’t turned as quickly for everyone. You know it’s been almost two years since Hurricane Katrina hit and when we came down on this trip I really thought there would be a lot more rebuilding going on then there actually is. Of course one of the main problems is there’s just not contractors to take care of all of the work and those that are taking care of some of the rebuilding are finding that the process is a little different then it was before.

Craig Brown: The past 15 months has been a challenging experience. We’ve had issues with subcontractors, vendors, everybody that was reliable and dependable before. Everybody suffered tremendously from the storm. Cleanup has taken a long time, it just, when you drive down the coastline it’s just slab after slab after slab. You know when I came back three days after the storm I went to the street that, my house was on, it was nothing but lumber, just sticks of lumber, just layered on top of each other. And it was you know it was just a sight that you really don’t want to see. We’ve had several code changes, each city is a little different, you have to be familiar with each city and what they require. They all look at it and interpret it a little different. We kind of look at what each city requires and go to the max. If Biloxi requires 18 inch spacing on anchor bolts then we’re going to do that across the board.

Danny Lipford: What Craig is describing is not uncommon down here these days. In other places building codes are often treated as the highest standard that must be met, but for the folks that lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina, the real standard is a structure that can survive the wind and the water. The people who live here and the contractors who work here know more about that now then they did a short 24 months ago. It has definitely changed the way homes are being built and rebuilt. The homeowners that are rebuilding this home are not taking any chances at all and they’re exceeding all of the codes. Not only by using a lot of the structural component ideas that Craig mentioned earlier but by how tall they’re building their new house.

Now, before the house that was wiped away by the storm was pretty much right down on the ground level which was 13 feet above sea level. Well this one is 12 feet higher than that so that puts them at 25 feet above sea level. That should put them at a very safe level for almost any kind of storm surge that may come through this area. Now when we come back we’ll share with you some of the things you need to know to prepare yourself and your home for a catastrophe that may hit your part of the country, whether you live on the coast or not.

Announcer: It’s time for this week’s Simple Solution from home repair expert Joe Truini.

Joe Truini: If you do your own home maintenance sooner or later you’re going to end up working on a ladder. Now the first thing to remember in order to do that safely is you have to establish the correct angle of the ladder against the house. There is a general rule that says there should be a four to one ratio to establish that correct angle. That means if the ladder is 16 feet tall the base of the ladder should be about four feet off of the house. I’ve discovered it’s much easier to get the right angle by simply putting your toes against the base of the ladder, grabbing a rung at about shoulder height and just extend your arms straight out, and at that point the top of the ladder should hit the house. That establishes the proper angle so you can climb easily and comfortably.

Another thing to remember is when you’re working the ladder you want your hands as free as possible. So one way to do that is to take a wooden dowel and cut it about a foot longer than the width of the ladder, then just slip it through the hole in the rung. And what I also did is I cut a notch with a saw that allows me to hook a paint can right on the end of the dowel and this side I have a can that is filled with the paint I’m using and this is an empty can that I cleaned up that I just as a tool caddy. The last thing to remember is at the end of the day when you are through painting remove the cans one at a time and climb down the ladder keeping one hand on the rungs at all times.

Danny Lipford: This week we’re in coastal Mississippi the area that was hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina almost two years ago. Now we visited here just a little after the storm and saw all of the devastation all over this place and one house that we happened to tour through is this one: it’s the home of Mary Katherine Ward, and inside the house was all torn up from eight feet of water rushing through the house. Well fortunately all the repairs have been completed, Mrs. Ward is back in the house and very happy. Now the Wards did something that we would strongly recommend if a storm’s hitting your area, and that’s evacuate to a safer area. And they went and stayed with some relatives a few hundred miles inland and that’s one of things you can do to prepare for a storm but there’s a lot of other things that you can do well ahead of the storm hitting.

George Jones: The idea of things for a homeowner to do, whether it be anticipating a storm or fire or anything else, would be to take a series of pictures or photos of all of the property inside their house. It’s almost impossible for someone to sit down and to remember the things that are destroyed or lost when you don’t have something to look at to re-jog your memory. So it’s an ideal thing to go ahead and get an inventory of the completed contents of your home and especially specialty items, like your jewelry, guns, fine arts, rugs, paintings, anything like that that is special coverage to get a picture of that. And there are some companies out here providing that service but the homeowner themselves can take a video of it, but certainly be sure to store away from premises because if the premise is destroyed then their evidence of what they have would be destroyed also.

Danny Lipford: Like George said, good preparation is important whether you live in area that’s prone to tropical storms or not. He also had some good advice for people in the aftermath of a catastrophe like a hurricane, tornado or flood.

After the storm hits the homeowner needs to assess the damage to their property and make sure they do any temporary repairs. Take a picture if they’re going to replace anything or remove anything, but take a picture of it. DO the temporary repairs to prevent further damage. Contact their agent, make sure that they are set up to have their claim inspected by an adjustor. Usually what happens when you have a major storm like this, it’s impossible to have enough adjustors to give you an immediate service, so if a homeowner can make arrangements themselves to do some of the temporary repairs it’s going to save a lot of money for the insurance company and for the homeowner.

The Wards did a very smart thing by removing all of their water damaged drywall as soon as they got back to their home after the storm. Now this discouraged any mold growth in their home. Well this house was a little different. We were here when they opened this door for the first time after about three weeks of sitting here wet, and we saw more mold in this house than I’ve ever seen anywhere. Now you know it is a big concern and a lot of things that people have really had to deal with in this entire area with all of the water that rushed through all of these neighborhoods but just how bad of a health hazard is mold?

Dr. Charles Runel M.D.: It was different in Katrina versus say the hurricanes that went through Florida a few years before that because there was a longer cleanup time. If you can cleanup within 24 to 48 hours there’s less overgrowth. So there was longer cleanup time, and much more overgrowth of mold and so more exposure. And the way it can affect you is if it’s an irritant then you of course get inflamed eyes, rash. If it’s allergic reaction then you have trouble with the asthma or in severe cases you may have worse things, swelling and that sort of thing. If you look at the statistics after Katrina, there were about 26 out of every 1,000 people interviewed at refugee centers that had flu like or pneumonia like symptoms and only 5 to 6 cases of an actual invasive fungi growing in –  some immune core fungi growing inside of someone. In all of those cases it was someone who had a severe immune compromise with a severe disease. So they actual severe cases are not that common. That’s opposed to say there were 167 cases of carbon monoxide poison from people using their generators.

Danny Lipford: That’s good news but it doesn’t mean that the mold can be left alone. It has to be removed before rebuilding begins. But knowing the real risk it poses does reduce some of the fear factor for the folks that have been living and working with this recovery effort for more than a dozen months since the storm. That’s good because when you’re faced for the kind of destruction these Gulf Coast residents have been dealing with you look for every bright spot you can find. Now one of those bright spots has been the army of volunteers who have stepped in to help the people in this area recover. After the best new product segment we’ll take a closer look at what they’re doing and the results they’re getting.

Danny Lipford: If you want to keep entertaining on your patio or deck after the sun goes down here’s a cool idea that might be worth a try. This is the new solar market umbrella from Hampton Bay. It’s a 9×7 rectangular patio umbrella with 8 steel ribs on the underside which together holds 30 lights to brighten up your patio table. Now with this type of lighting there’s no need to run electrical wires or extension cords across the deck or patio because the lights are solar powered so you might even save a little on your utility bill. The umbrella has a sturdy aluminum pole for support and the polyester fabric on top is both durable and very easy to keep clean.

Like most umbrellas the pole has a special hinge joint so that you can tilt the umbrella as you need to, to adjust to the changing angle of the sun during the daylight hours, but after dark it also lets you adjust the lighting as you need to. For less than a 120 dollars this is certainly an interesting way to add a little mood lighting to your outdoor entertainment area.

Danny Lipford: This week we’re in South Mississippi, one of the areas that was hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina almost two years ago. Now you can see there’s a lot of work yet to be done, and in some cases home owners are still trying to work things out with their insurance companies. In the other situations they have their money and their challenge is trying to find a contractor that can do the repair work because they are in real short supply throughout this whole area. But this place would really be in bad shape if it weren’t for all the hundreds of volunteers that are helping those that need the help the most.

Susan Ladner: If I had to describe this disaster now after two years, it was the most all encompassing event that anyone could ever imagine. It affected every aspect of one’s life, of your existence, everybody was effected and somewhere, most everyone lost homes. In Pass Christian, 39571, almost the entire zip code is gone. How this group has come in and taken over has been one of the most remarkable things. I do not remember this after Camille, I do not remember much, but I don’t remember the volunteer groups. And every time you speak of the Baptist men of North Carolina the reception is, “that is such a wonderful organization,” and I am so proud to be, I feel a part of it now. I have felt a sense of professionalism for everyone that has been here.

I have had cabinet makers and contractors and builders and construction business owners who haven’t wielded a hammer in 15 years that have been on ladders putting my trusses up. I have had the cabinet maker I had built my porch and with you know with his skills it’s within an eighth of an inch, so I have the utmost respect, I have never met a group like the Baptist Men of North Carolina, I feel such a fortunate thing has happened to me to be involved with this and I intend to volunteer with them for the rest of my life.

Danny Lipford: The Gulf Coast coordinator for the North Carolina Baptist men is Eddie Williams. We first met Eddie a few months after the storm when he helped us deliver over a million and a half dollars worth of tools and materials that were being donated to Gulf Coast residents by the sponsors of our show. We caught up with him again on the job at Susan’s house to find out how his work here got started and why it’s been so successful.

Eddie Williams: My heart was in missions and this was a tremendous mission ground so a lot of prayer and support of my wife, my family, we resigned our jobs, closed up our home and we came to Mississippi and gave a two year commitment to help rebuild back. We’ve had over 300 volunteers per day since Hurricane Katrina so we get a lot of different skill levels. We get nonskilled so we do a lot of preliminary work ahead of time. When a group registers with us, then we request their skills and whatever those skills are then we try to match up on the job site. Have all the materials there and then they can go right to work, for those who’s nonskilled we’ll either partner them with a team or find a project where those skills can be utilized also.

As far as the city official we’re working with five different code offices and every one of them has been great. They have been fantastic to us, we’ve had no problems, they go out of their way to make sure that we need what we have to have as far as inspections and things and it’s not uncommon to call them and say hey what do I need to do here? And they are very eager to help us so what we’re seeing is operations of prototype where you can take a faith based organization, you can take the federal government, and you can take a municipality and you can all work together for good. And we’ve seen that, we’ve accomplished that.

Danny Lipford: Eddie and his group of volunteers have done a phenomenal job of getting so many of the families that really need the most help back in their homes. Now one home owner that was lucky enough to find a contractor and able to get his rebuilding restarted is someone we visited with earlier, Mark Ashley. Now Mark you are so close I mean you are so close to getting in here, your family must be really excited.

Mark Ashley: Well the word for it, is they’ve already packed, so they have their schedule and the builder has his. So we’re on the edge.

Danny Lipford: Well what process being in terms of finding that contractor and materials and all the logistics, permits, that kind of thing….has it really been tough on you?

Mark Ashley: Actually it’s a lot smoother than I thought. While it may have taken a month or so longer than normal it really has been smooth and they’ve been working everyday since they started.

Danny Lipford: Now how much do you have left to get moved in there? It looks like just basically down to the almost the punch list.

Mark Ashley: That’s it, the appliances go in and we finish out the painting and we hope in about 2 weeks.

Danny Lipford: I see. Now I understand that this is very close to the same kind of floor plan that you had in the house before.

Mark Ashley: It is, we just tweaked it to move out the front wall a little bit so we could get a little extra room upstairs, other than that we were happy with what we had so it ,….

Danny Lipford: Well you have certainly added kind of a nice bright spot in this neighborhood, I know a lot of the neighbors are still struggling with exactly what they’re going to do but I’m sure they’re dropping by with a lot of comments for you.

Mark Ashley: They’re all “we’re anxious to get back” and hopefully they’re anxious to have back, and then we hope that the rest of the neighbors will get started soon with their plan.

Danny Lipford: Well I have to say you are one persistent guy.

Mark Ashley: Well that’s not what my wife says it’s a little stronger word than that, but thank you.

Tricia Craven Worley: I knew I fell in love with then my future husband Don when he knew how to change a tire on our car, but that’s another story. Actually I’m going to give you a tip on how to change a wheelbarrow tire and maybe that will plant some romance in your life.

Now this is a wheelbarrow tire that you do inflate and it’s flat. I can pump it up with bicycle pump or aerosol flat tire filler. And this actually pumps air and a sealer into the tire so then you can hold the air. However I think probably the best thing to do is buy a universal wheelbarrow tire. This is a solid tire, it’s never going to go flat on you again. And you think well how’s it going to fit my wheelbarrow? Well actually it’s universal so there are all these different parts that you can put on to adjust it to the size of your wheelbarrow and remember you are never going to have to inflate it again so I think it’s a really super idea.

Danny Lipford: Mark tells me he only needs just two more weeks to complete all the work on his house and move his family in, and that’s just in time for his daughter’s high school graduation. You know there’s some wonderful stories from this area and since I was here last a lot of progress has been made but there’s a lot more work to be done. Now if you can find a way to help the spirited optimistic people in this area, do it. If you need some suggestions drop by our website. I’m Danny we’ll see you soon.

Next week we’re in Vegas to show you all that’s new for your kitchen and bath.

Editorial Contributors
Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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