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Local Couple Leads Rebuilding Effort Even As Isaac Bears Down

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Volunteers with the St. Bernard Project work to install drywall.
Bridget Nolan/St. Bernard Project
Volunteers with the St. Bernard Project work to install drywall.

As Hurricane Isaac slowly grinds across the Gulf Coast region, two native Washingtonians who have been working to rebuild homes in the region are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

In 2005, Liz McCartney and Zack Rosenberg were among the legions of volunteers in the gulf helping rebuild, following Hurricane Katrina. After spending a month in New Orleans with local relief efforts, Rosenberg says, the couple had an epiphany.

"Quite simply, we saw people in need," says Rosenberg. "We saw that there weren't available resources to meet that need, and I don't think we could have done anything else."

They relocated from Washington to New Orleans to create the St. Bernard Project, a non-profit that rebuilds homes and helps support the families living in them. Since 2006, the project has rebuilt more than 445 homes in the greater New Orleans area. Now, with hurricane Isaac expected to make landfall, 7 years to the day that Katrina struck, McCartney says they've done all they can to keep the project's hard work from being destroyed.

"We boarded up windows," says McCartney. "We called past and current clients to see if they needed and assistance getting out of the area, or prepping the house from the storm, so I think the team feels like we did everything we could to adequately prepare."

Rosenberg says although Isaac can destroy homes, it can't diminish what the project has done to restore the faith of families affected by past hurricanes.

"That work has been a massive success and regardless of what happens with Hurricane Isaac because it taught our clients that their American citizenship has meaning, and that their humanity has meaning," says Rosenberg.

The couple says the need in New Orleans remains high, with approximately 8,000 families that can't afford to rebuild homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The pair is expecting their first child and temporarily evacuated to neighboring Alabama to avoid the brunt of the hurricane.

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