WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - 14 years ago, Denise Maldonado and her aunt, Beverly Calvin, were forced out of a place they called home.
“Wichita has always been home,” said Maldonado, 'but by being raised in New Orleans that’s home also."
Hurricane Katrina would end up being the most destructive storm in U.S. history.
“I was on the roof for 17 hours," said Maldonado, "six hours in the attic.”
Maldonado’s family in Wichita Falls brought her and Calvin to Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, just like many other members of that congregation.
Pastor Carl Harris said so many Hurricane Katrina evacuees came to the church in 2005 that FEMA reached out and gave money.
With many survivors having stayed and built a new life in Wichita Falls, Harris said he wanted to take a day and celebrate them.
“It was just laid on my heart to just celebrate that they were able to withstand that adverse situation,” said Harris.
“Just everybody was so good to us. All the churches and all,” said Calvin.
Today’s Louisiana Victory Day offered church members a chance to share their stories of their experience through the hurricane as well as their new lives in Wichita Falls.
“We’ve been there so we know how the feeling of loss and losing, we were blessed not to lose any family members, but we lost friends,” said Maldonado, “so we can understand what they’re going through.”
Harris said at Pilgrim Rest those who survived Katrina have found a community and a second family.
“Even during disaster’s, you know, we just don’t know what our fate in life is,” added Harris.
“My church, this is my church," said Calvin, "this is where I belong.”