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Maxine Harris: One of the lucky ones

After spending a month at a shelter in Natchez, Miss., Maxine Harris hopes  that Hurricane Katrina’s dramatic impact on her life is nearing an end. But if it’s not, she won’t rest until everything is set right.
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Maxine Harris, 48, Westwego, La. Married and the owner of an insured house worth approximately $90,000.

After spending a full month at an emergency shelter in Natchez, Miss., Maxine Harris is hoping that Hurricane Katrina’s dramatic impact on her life and those of her loved ones is nearing an end. But if it’s not, she won’t rest until everything is set right.

“I have a great feeling that my life is going to be just where it was before, because I’m going to work at it, “ she said this week as she prepared for a much-anticipated homecoming. “Because if I work at it, it’s going to be OK.”

As in the case of Bill Harris, Maxine Harris already is familiar to readers of’s hurricane blog, thanks to a report on her inspirational role as the lynchpin of her extended family, 42 of whom spent much of the last month at the Red Cross shelter in the Community Chapel Church of God, just outside Natchez, Miss. (Click here to read the original post on Harris and her family.)

Harris and her husband, John, are the luckiest of the Katrina victims we selected to follow in our series. Their house in a quiet neighborhood of Westwego, a town of 10,763 south of New Orleans, just across the Mississippi River, was flooded, but the water apparently only was a couple inches deep, she said, relying on reports from her nephews who went back earlier this week to begin the cleanup.

“My boys did say the carpet is wet and whatever was on the floor we’ll have to throw out, but there is really no need to knock out walls or replace windows,” said Harris, an in-home health care worker who also is a part-timer at several local nursing homes. “Apart from that, we just lost some shingles and the fence.”

Longing for home
She said she plans to call her insurance adjuster as soon as she gets home on Thursday and expects that most or all of the damage will be covered by her homeowners’ insurance. But she and her husband plan to contact FEMA to see if they are eligible for reimbursement for anything that isn’t covered.

Even before she knew how bad her home had been hit, Harris was resolved to return to the house, which she shares with her husband, two nephews and, on occasion, a grandson.

“We live on a very settled street, with lots of people over the age of 50,” she said. “I could leave my door open and when I came back everything would be just the way I left it,” she said when asked to describe her neighborhood.

And while she admits she did a bit of fretting before hearing that her house had come through relatively unscathed, she always believed that everything would turn out all right.

“I just knew God would be looking out for me,” she said.