Milne Home Opens

To grasp the magnitude of destruction Hurricane Katrina brought upon southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, consider this: There remain people who desperately want to return home but continue to be displaced.

For nearly 10 years, that has been the case for residents of the Milne Home.

The original facility, in Gentilly, was home to 60 developmentally challenged people prior to the storm and levee failures. But like so many other people, they had to flee prior to the destruction on Aug. 29, 2005. The Milne Home residents wound up in Laurel, Mississippi, where services helping care for them continue to this day.

But by the end of the month, only a few days after the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the last Milne Home residents will return to Louisiana.

The first foursome of residents was transported April 15 to the new Milne Home, which is on a 55-acre tract in the Waldheim community near Covington. The facility has 12 residential houses, each with four individual bedrooms. There is a community center, a medical clinic, an administrative building and more, all on-site. The community has its own water and electrical systems, as well as its own roads.

The cost to build was approximately $11 million, with $6.2 million coming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency via the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Additional funding came from the Milne organization and donors, according to Gary Bidne, the director of development and marketing for Alexander Milne Developmental Services.

Bidne said 48 residents will live on the new grounds in Waldheim. He said more than 100 people will be employed as a result of the build.