Green Shelter: Shirley Charlot in New Orleans

blog_bibg_shirley_ charlot1
blog_bibg_shirley_ charlot1

After Hurricane Katrina forced her from her home of 15 years, 83-year-old New Orleans native Shirley Charlot suffered through the nightmare shared by so many others in New Orleans. She spent three nights in the Superdome before being evacuated to Houston, where she took up residence with her sister. Upon returning to the Holy Cross neighborhood more than six months later, Charlot discovered her home had been wrecked by wind and water. It got worse: Two contractors defrauded Charlot, charging thousands of dollars for substandard work that created unhealthy conditions inside the house. Breathing problems forced her to make use of an oxygen tank and her energy bills often topped $400. As a retiree, Charlot was unable to afford living in her home.

Then the 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development (CSED) contacted Charlot through neighborhood canvassing and enrolled her in Historic Green’s “Spring Greening” weatherization initiative. Volunteers from all over the country descended on the 9th Ward to assist CSED, Historic Green, and Global Green USA for two weeks to help weatherize and green eight homes in the neighborhood.

Global Green's Build It Back Green technical staff members Cody Wero and Andrew Spaulding led volunteers at Charlot’s home to seal ductwork, install radiant barrier, blow in cellulose insulation, install compact fluorescent light bulbs, and air-seal the home. As expected, the green repairs made to Charlot’s home resulted in a dramatic drop in her monthly bills. More dramatically, Charlot no longer needs to use an oxygen tank inside the house.

“Every night, I had to sleep under oxygen,” she said. “Since they did that insulation, I haven’t slept under oxygen one time. I’m about to call and tell them to come take those tanks!”

Editor's note: Thanks to WegoWise for cross-posting this story on their blog.