Hurricane Jackpot

By: Alana Adams
By: Alana Adams

"They're here! That's them!."
Martha Rodriguez and her family called New Orleans, Louisiana, their home for the last 35 years.
Joined by her two granddaughters, and her husband will arrive shortly, she is getting a chance she never imagined she would need.
"I've seen so much happen to people I lived with and worked with. I'm still wondering if some of them are alive, if I'm going to see them again. It's so painful. I can't explain it. I just hope it doesn't happen again."
Jon Wamba and Jeff DiMaria,friends of the Rodriguez family, arrived earlier in the day from New Orleans... both employees at Harrah's in New Orleans... who decided Katrina would be the last hurricane for them.
"The house survived the hurricane. However, we just received news yesterday from a friend who is back in New Orleans, that the house was broken into. So, there was a level of looting."
Jackie Cramer, of South Lake Tahoe, is responsible for the smiles shared at the airport.
Cramer hit the jackpot at Harrah's Casino just two days after Hurricane Katrina ravaged it's way along the gulf coast, and she knew exactly what to do.
"After watching CNN for two days. It is the first thought because they needed help. It's wonderful. It's like we've adopted new families."
Liza Cartlidge, Harrah's General Manager, says they were thrilled with the idea and already had people in mind.
"So, Jackie approached us. We combined that with the efforts we were already doing to help find jobs for employees, and homes and places for their cats. So, it just worked out as a perfect match."
Jon Wamba, along with the others, are just grateful for a new start.
"I'm not sure what I have left back there. So, what I have right now is in four bags and we'll start from scratch."


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