Habitat for Humanity home recipients Norris “Chopper” and Andrea Guillot, their children and grandmother, Ruth Faget, settled in Cullman following Hurricane Katrina.

Chopper Guillot said he returned to Gulfport, Mississippi for two weeks following the storm to help clean up the area. It was then he determined he and his family could not return home to the coast.

“It was hard at first moving up here, losing everything and leaving all your family and friends behind,” said Guillot.

The Guillot’s had friends who once lived in Cullman. They encouraged the Guillots to evacuate to Cullman because the storm was so bad, according to Andrea Guillot.

“We were staying with some friends of theirs for just a couple of days until we could find another place,” said Andrea Guillot. “Emeus Baptist Church in Logan took us in.”

Guillot said Deacon Mike Wray put him to work right away at his business, Wray Brothers, Inc., installing living quarters in horse trailers. But as business stalled, Guillot had to look elsewhere for work.

His Gulfport employer offered a job at a business recently purchased in Birmingham.

The Guillot’s lived in the basement of the Emeus Church for a month until they could find a place of their own to live.

They moved to West Point and rented a trailer.

“The landlord agreed to waive the deposit, and they have been very gracious to us,” said Andrea Guillot.

The Guillot’s have received numerous offers of assistance from the people of Cullman.

“A lot of churches in the area just came out and donated anything we needed, food, furniture, clothing, toys for the kids and basically just about anything we needed,” said Andrea Guillot.

The Guillot’s have four children: Seth, 15, Sierra, 12, Zachary, 9 and Savannah, 7. All of the children have contributed time working on their new Habitat home.

Guillot said moving to Cullman “turns out to be a blessing. We really love Cullman. That is the reason we didn’t go back.”

Andrea Guillot’s mother, Ruth Faget, was living in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast.

Faget said she’s glad she evacuated.

“I almost didn’t,” she said.

She had friends who did not evacuate and went through harrowing experiences. One friend lived in a structure that blew apart and was washed out into the bay. The friend managed to survive, according to Faget.

Faget initially stayed at a motel in Meridian, Mississippi.

“When Andrea could finally contact me, they invited me to come,” said Faget.

The first few days the Guillot’s stayed with Rory and Kim Still and Faget stayed with Rory Still’s mother, Barbara Still.

“She put me up for a while and helped me find a place to rent,” said Faget.

Faget rented from Jerry and Shirley Scott.

“They were so sweet to me,” said Faget. “I rented from them for almost a year.”

Faget said she is glad she ended up in Cullman.

“You can’t ask for nicer people to be around,” she said. “I feel like God has really blessed me.”

Faget used insurance money to buy land in Logan and donated half of the land to her daughter.

Habitat for Humanity has moved a home onto the property and is working with the Guillot family to restore it.

Scheduled to graduate from nursing school in Gulfport May 2006, Andrea Guillot transferred to Wallace State Community College to finish her degree.

“I was pretty intimidated and upset at not graduating when I thought I would, but the faculty and students have been very helpful and supportive,” said Andrea Guillot. “They have just been really wonderful to me,”

Guillot will graduate in December with an Associate Degree in nursing.

Her biggest concern is thanking everyone who has helped and assisted her and her family. She didn’t want to leave anyone out.

“I am very glad to be here. Everybody has been tremendous to us and welcomed us.”

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