Skip to comments.Strangers Give Cameron Resident New Home, Life
Posted on 01/23/2006 10:02:53 AM PST by CajunConservative
Wanda Goldson is home.
The former Cameron resident last week moved into her School Street home in Lake Charles that replaces her Cameron home, which was destroyed by Hurricane Rita.
Goldson's new home was furnished at no charge to her after real estate agent Rose Holland started a donation drive to assist Goldson, who is unable to work because of a physical disability.
Since the storm, Goldson has made about 20 trips to Shreveport where she lived before moving to Cameron mostly for doctor's visits and meetings with FEMA and insurance agents.
"It was really hard on me," she said.
Goldson knew she couldn't return to live in Cameron after learning about new rebuilding requirements installed by the federal government.
"I went to a meeting with the FEMA people about elevation requirements for homes that would be rebuilt in Cameron, and I knew I would not be able to make it up and down all of those steps," she said. "I knew I would have to live in Lake Charles, which is where all my doctors are. I have a couple of surgeries coming up. It was not good for me to be on the road so much."
Goldson said her the first trip back to Cameron was hard to deal with.
"As we left Calcasieu Parish and got closer to Cameron, things got worse and worse. As we got closer to my neighborhood, reality started setting in. When I saw my street, I could only stand there and stare. Nothing was like it was supposed to be. There were familiar sounds, but all of the dwellings were just gone.
"Eventually, I just let out a scream. I just felt numb."
After that trip, Goldson started looking at houses. The first one she liked, the School Street house, was apparently already under contract.
"Then Rose called ... and said she could show me this one, that it was not under contract," Goldson said. "Everything on the inside was nice and there was no blue roof. It felt like home as soon as I stepped inside.
"I told Rose I had not made up my mind yet. I was still having a hard time getting over everything that had happened. It was hard to admit that I needed to move on, even though I really knew I had to."
Holland, on the day after she showed Goldson the house, helped show her the way.
"Rose called to tell me she wanted to be of help to me," Goldson said. "I told her that she could help me think, help me figure out what I needed to do. It was a big relief, finally being able to let someone help me."
They soon met with a loan officer, who told Goldson about her options if she decided to get the house.
The next day, a Tuesday, Goldson told Rose that she wanted the house. On Friday came news that the seller had agreed to her terms.
"She also told me that she and her husband, Bob, wanted to adopt me, wanted to do something to get me settled in the house," Goldson said.
Holland said she knew immediately that Goldson was a special person.
"I could tell from the moment we met that she had been helping people all her life," Holland said. "Even while dealing with her disability, she was always trying to find a way to help her friends. I felt that it was her turn to be on the receiving end."
Holland donated her commission to Goldson's cause and convinced other agents, friends, relatives and members of the Third Order of Carmelites an evangelical group of which Holland is a member to make donations.
"The response from people when they found out was awesome," Holland said. "They started donating appliances, furniture and supplies for the house, anything they could. Even the seller, Jerry Forest, made donations."
Holland collected enough to furnish the house.
"I loved getting everyone together, putting my heart into it and being able to surprise her," Holland said.
Holland said she got help from her housekeeper, Ruth Wade; mother, Camille Timpa; and Larry Cady, "our lawn maintenance guy," who used his flatbed truck to move everything to the house.
Another agent, Anja Richard, helped redo an antique rocking chair for Wanda.
"We would say we needed something, and it would mysteriously appear," Holland said. "I could not wait to bring her in."
Paperwork delays moved back Goldson's move-in day.
"But I told her the longer she had to wait, the better the house was going to look," Holland said.
Goldson said it was worth the wait.
"I felt like I was on one of those decorating shows, because they would not let me in the house until they were finished," she said. "When Rose asked if I would allow them to furnish the house, I agreed and told them to surprise me. I did not expect anything like they did."
The unveiling left her speechless.
"I really was, because I could not believe how nice everything was," Goldson said. "She told me I could change anything I did not like, but I am not touching everything. It is all wonderful."
She thanked contributors Kenneth Taylor, Mike Guillory, Paul H. Duhon, Geraldine Simonet, Walter Murrell, J.B. Ward, Ersie Franklin and Wanda LeBlanc.
"This never would have happened without them," she said.
Goldson admitted to having trouble sleeping the first night.
"After everyone left after we signed the papers, I kept going from room to room trying to pick which one to use as my bedroom. I was up until 3:30 a.m.," she said. "Once all the excitement was over, I felt so much peace.
"I knew it was all over now. I was at home. I was no longer displaced, no longer a victim of Hurricane Rita."
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