Hurricane evacuees move into new homes - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Hurricane evacuees move into new homes

December 22, 2005

Albany - Wednesday morning, about six evacuee families signed leases with the city for their new homes. By the afternoon, the first families packed up and left the motels that they've been living in for months and moved into newly renovated units at Boyette Village.

Four days after the hurricane hit New Orleans, Thomas Marks was rescued from his flooded home. He road a bus and hitch-hiked to an Albany shelter.

"It was good to get away," said Marks. "Getting here was tough."

For more than three months, he's lived in this small motel room.

"Living out of a bag is hard, but I did it." But no more. Wednesday, he signed a lease for his new home in Boyette Village.

"Having a home, making a home cook meal, lying in your own bed every night and relaxing - it's a good thing."

By lunch time, he had packed the few things he brought with him and loaded up his car. His gas tank and wallet are empty, but he says his heart is full of hope.

"I did have any money to start over again, and I didn't have insurance to pay it, so I lost. But now, I'll gain a lot." He'll gain a roof over his head, and a fresh start.

"I'm back alive again."

Marks is one of about six families moving into Boyette Village in the next few days.

"They are magnificent. They are spacious, and I love it."

Second Greater Mt. Olive Baptist Church renovated the homes, and worked with the city and FEMA to move in the evacuees. For at least a year, Marks and the other evacuees will live here rent free.

"Albany will be my home, Albany is going to be my home. I left a lot of memories and friends there. It means something to me to have anew beginning on life, and this is."

With Christmas just three days away, Marks says the new home is the best gift he's ever received.

The church hopes to move in at least six families this weekend. The units are completely furnished, including stocked refrigerators and bed linens.

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