NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans lost more than half its population after Hurricane Katrina. For many, there was no place to live. Some 134,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, but since then, 81 percent have been rebuilt thanks to an army of builders.
When we visited the home of Francita Clemons, dozens of volunteers were putting the finishing touches on the house. She and her mother abandoned it just before the deluge.
"I left the day before the storm to a finished house and now I have a finished house again," said Clemons.
The moment is bittersweet. Her mother died long before she got help to rebuild. Holding back tears, Clemons said her pride made it hard to ask for help.
But last year she found out about the St. Bernard Project, a nonprofit started by Zack Rosenburg and his wife Liz McCartney.
The couple came from Washington, D.C., to volunteer two months after the storm. They planned to stay for two weeks. They never left.
"What we first saw was wholly inconsistent with the America we knew," said Zack. "It was either step forward or step backward and our first step was forward."
So far, the group has rebuilt 614 homes -- more than any other nonprofit in the New Orleans area.
"We've just started a three-year $10 million campaign to rebuild 240 houses," said Rosenburg.
But there's a lot of work to do. More than 5,000 families are still waiting for their homes to be rebuilt. Requests to the St. Bernard Project are up 25 percent this year.
Lee Edward, 94, is a World War II veteran who built his home with his own hands.
"Home means 100 percent of my life," said Edward.
Katrina's winds blew part of his roof off and cracked his foundation. He patched up what he could with FEMA money, but ran out before the job was done. He's one of more than 100 people still on the project's waiting list.
Edward never thought about leaving.
"I'm gonna die here," said Edward.
On a street in the 9th Ward in New Orleans one can see the challenges still facing the city: a home is rebuilt next door to an abandoned and blighted property.