The Bordelons: Rebuilt Home, Hope for the Future Donald and Colleen Bordelon's home in St. Bernard Parish, La., was still in ruins a year after being flooded by Hurricane Katrina. But since then, they've nearly finished rebuilding and are growing confident the neighborhood will come back, too.
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The Bordelons: Rebuilt Home, Hope for the Future

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The Bordelons: Rebuilt Home, Hope for the Future

The Bordelons: Rebuilt Home, Hope for the Future

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, we met some people who simply refused to leave their home.

How high did the water get in here?

Mr. DONALD BORDELON (Resident, St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana): In here? How high can you see? That's how high it went, buddy.

INSKEEP: Donald Bordelon and his wife, Colleen, have become regular guests on this program. And two years after Katrina, we called them again. We're talking with people who made a difference. And the Bordelon's home outside New Orleans is now different.

Mr. and Mrs. Bordelon?

Mr. BORDELON: Hey, how are you doing?


Ms. COLLEEN BORDELON (Resident, St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana): Hello.

INSKEEP: Hi. Good to talk with you again.

Mr. BORDELON: Hey. Good to talk to you, too. We've been moving along, you know, still working on our house. Got the inside finished. Working on the outside right now.

INSKEEP: Well, now, let's talk about that for a minute, because when we first met you the first floor of your house was completely destroyed. The second floor of your house didn't honestly look very much better. But I had a colleague who dropped in on you, as you know, not too many weeks ago, and he said he practically wanted to move in, the house looks so nice.

Mr. BORDELON: Oh, yeah. The inside is coming out nice, you know?

INSKEEP: You got the drywall up, the sheetrock?

Mr. BORDELON: Oh, yeah. Man, oh, man. Got the TV, the cable in. All of our furniture is pretty much in, you know?

INSKEEP: So just for the record, for people to know, if you happen to have your house completely flooded out by a major hurricane, it only takes you about two years to get back in order.

Mr. BORDELON: Well, maybe three years.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BORDELON: We still don't have regular telephone service in this area.

INSKEEP: They don't?

Mr. BORDELON: Nope. Still ain't got phone lines yet. They're working on it, though. I'd say another two or three months maybe, you know?

INSKEEP: You said you're still working on the outside of the house?

Mr. BORDELON: Redoing the side (unintelligible) put new side, new gutter cans. I have a propeller marks on the carport, so we had to change the carport, you know?

INSKEEP: Which should remind people, you had your boat parked on top of the carport because that's how high the water was, right?

Mr. BORDELON: Yeah. Right. To get us upstairs, I just rowed the boat right across the carport, you know?

INSKEEP: Now, what about the rest of the neighborhood?

Mr. BORDELON: Oh, it's coming back. I got a couple of friends up the street. They got - one of them put maybe two or three or four of these modular homes.

INSKEEP: And are these people who lived on the street before?

Mr. BORDELON: Some of them, yeah. Some of them did. The one who bought up the street, I don't know who bought the lot or whatever, you know, I don't know who it is yet. But it's where - it's 30, 35 houses away from me - 35 lots away from me, I should say.

INSKEEP: Thirty-five lots. About how many people would you say are actually living in those 35 lots now?

Mr. BORDELON: Right now?


Mr. BORDELON: In the 35 lots? They got, let's see, one, two, three, four - maybe seven of us. Some of them still in FEMA trailers.

INSKEEP: Colleen Bordelon, your family is now settled in Mississippi?

Ms. BORDELON: My family is doing pretty good. The good part was in July we had our 50th birthday party for my sisters and myself. We turned 50 in July.

Mr. BORDELON: Yeah, she's a triplet.

INSKEEP: You're a triplet?


INSKEEP: I had no idea.

Ms. BORDELON: I thought I told you that.

INSKEEP: No. You never told me that.

Ms. BORDELON: Three girls, you know? Two of us look alike. The third one, total opposite - black hair, darker complexion.

INSKEEP: Mmm. Were you all living in New Orleans before the storm, or around it?

Ms. BORDELON: Okay. There was nine of us in the family.

INSKEEP: Nine of you?

Ms. BORDELON: Nine kids, right. And three of them lived away. One in Slidell and two in Mississippi.

INSKEEP: And everybody else was right around New Orleans?

Ms. BORDELON: Right. Right around by my momma's, you know. But now everybody is gone, and it's just my brother and I that's still down here.

INSKEEP: Mmm. Do you ever get used to what the neighborhood looks like now?

Ms. BORDELON: No. Not really. You know, like we said before when you was here - when you're inside, you don't feel all that, you know? You don't even think about it until you go outside and then you say, yuck.

INSKEEP: Is the neighborhood any noisier than it was? That was one of the amazing things at first was how incredibly quiet it was when you were almost that the only people left.

Ms. BORDELON: It's still quiet, don't you think?

Mr. BORDELON: It's a lot quieter than what it was. You don't have the car traffic like you used to have, you know? As a matter of fact, it was yesterday evening after - they had a little rain here yesterday during the day. It was really nice. It wasn't a hard rain or nothing. That afternoon it really got pretty. We went out and sat out of our front porch and - when you're sitting out there in the evening, you know, that's - you think about more of it then, you know? But like a little while ago I was on a scaffold on the side, fixing my roof over here, putting a new roof on the carport.

You know, you're just working along. You don't think about it. You're just fixing your place up and trying to make it nice, you know, and having a nice time on the weekends.

INSKEEP: Mmm. Well, Donald and Colleen Bordelon, I've enjoyed speaking with you once again.

Mr. BORDELON: All right then. It was nice talking to you. And we'll holler at you another day.

INSKEEP: Okay. Hang in there.

Ms. BORDELON: Take care.

INSKEEP: We'll see you before long.

Mr. BORDELON: All right, man. Bye-bye.

Ms. BORDELON: Night.


Watch a slideshow featuring the Bordelons at

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