A Beader’s Hurricane Katrina Success Story

by Melanie Solis.

It was 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 27. And it was becoming increasingly apparent that Hurricane Katrina was heading in our direction.

Folsom, Louisiana is approximately 60 miles north of New Orleans, but the TV news stations were all telling us it would be best to evacuate up to 100 miles inland. (That in itself was scary to me!)

But my problem with evacuating was this: I had just paid my house note and bills, and had NO MONEY left.

My mother (who lives in the hard-hit area of Slidell, Louisiana) evacuated on Friday the 26th and called me from a hotel in Tupelo, Mississippi, BEGGING me to leave.

The urgency in her voice really made me realize how serious the situation was.

I told her that I had no money and no way to pay for a hotel room, gas, or food for several days with my two kids in tow. She assured me that she would put it on her credit card and made me promise to not base my decision to leave on money.

I decided to make a run for it.

By 2:00 p.m. we had the car loaded and ready to go. Before I left the house, something told me that I should bring my beads and jewelry tools. (I was thinking that maybe my house would blow away and I could not bear to lose all of my beading stuff!)

I couldn’t fit it all in the car, so I grabbed the basics – my Swarovski case, my crimps and pliers case, and my bead wire. (I figured, “At least I won’t be bored.”)

On Monday the 29th, it was evident that I would not be able to return home for quite a while – perhaps months. I was a “Katrina evacuee”, but felt more like a “refugee”.

I took the kids and registered at the Red Cross in Tupelo, where we were able to get two free hot meals per day plus clothing and personal care items.

It was there that I met my two angels – two young teenage girls who were volunteering at the Red Cross. They took me and my kids under their wings and helped us feel better about our situation. They visited us in our hotel, bringing us food and toys for the kids. I spent time making jewelry, and I made six nice sets. The volunteers were curious and asked me about my “hobby”.

They offered to take my jewelry sets to their church to show some of the ladies. The next day, they came back with $250 cash. They sold every last piece! I felt like I had angels watching over my family during this horrible ordeal.

Through it all, I have come to the following conclusions:

  1. Angels DO EXIST.
  2. Nothing is impossible with God.
  3. If you ever need to evacuate, go to Tupelo, Mississippi (the people there were so good to my family).and last but not least,
  4. NEVER, EVER leave home for extended periods of time without your beads and jewelry making tools!

We are now doing fine. Our home sustained only minimal damages (by the graces of God!), and it’s now almost 100% back to normal.

We ended up staying in Tupelo for almost a month, and that money from the jewelry was a real blessing. The kids’ school re-opened on October 1st and they will have to use some summer time to make up for the missed days.

I was laid off from my job right before Christmas and unemployment insurance has been my main source of income.

I believe everything happens for a reason, and my home based jewelry business is starting to really take shape! I even have a lady who is interested in my “Pupperazzi Pet Blings” pet jewelry line for her pet store.

Author Melanie Solis of Mel’s Designs-n-Beads designs handmade beaded fashion jewelry and pet jewelry. Currently her website features angel jewelry sets and a New Orleans jewelry set.

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