TUPELO – Jan Eastman jokes that Hurricane Katrina didn’t displace her but replaced her.
The Columbus native had lived in the New Orleans area for 23 years when Katrina broke the levees and flooded the city.
The flood waters got within five inches of her house in Kenner. As she watched the devastation five years ago from her relative’s house in Starkville, the self-employed woman saw her future quickly evaporating.
She was a consultant and worked with more than 60 nonprofit agencies, many of which were flooded by Katrina and wouldn’t need her services while they rebuilt.
“I was 59 and lost my business, everything,” she said. “I had no income for the rest of the year. I told my brother, ‘I just might have to be a Walmart greeter.'”
Her brother started making calls and people got her in touch with The CREATE Foundation in Tupelo. CREATE hired her as the director of development.
“We feel so lucky because I needed them and they needed me,” she said.
She settled down and bought a home in New Albany, which is decorated with the requisite New Orleans fleur de lis. Her vehicle also has a Saints car plate.
She gets to back to New Orleans every few months to stock up on food items like crawfish and andouille, but she doesn’t see herself moving back.
“I’ve had several opportunities to go back to New Orleans and I never will,” she said. “This is where I’m staying.”
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carlie Kollath / NEMS Daily Journal