The only home 2-year-old Carrie Anne Mannino-Townsend has ever known is a gray FEMA trailer that sits in the front yard of her family's house in Central's Evergreen Hills subdivision. Born just a week after the house flooded in August 2016, Carrie Anne has grown up in the trailer's cramped quarters that she shares with her mother, father and grandmother.
"She's only known life after the flood, and that's been difficult," her mother, Christy Mannino, said.
Mannino is optimistic her family will be able to get back into their house on North Bristle Cone Court soon, thanks to the help of volunteers organized by Vital Resource Solutions, a nonprofit helping flood victims with recovery.
On Saturday, the organization's executive director, Monique Robinson, directed a team of about a dozen volunteers from City Year and The Home Depot store in Gonzales as they used rubber mallets to hammer planks of gray vinyl flooring in place. The home improvement business donated the flooring, which is worth about $3,600, according to store manager Jamar Hayes.
"You hear that noise? You're getting some floors," Mannino told Carrie Anne as the volunteers hammered away.
The new floors puts the family one step closer to getting out of the Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer, which is the last such temporary home on the street, Mannino said.
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The family — which includes Mannino's husband, Bradley Townsend, and mother-in-law, Charlotte Townsend — has been stuck in the trailer longer than expected because of a contractor's shoddy work, some of which will have to be redone, Mannino said. Vital Resource Solutions and St. Vincent de Paul are helping them connect with people who can fix plumbing and electrical problems.
"We would have never needed charity," Mannino said, if not for the issues with the contractor.
She said she was overwhelmed when she saw the crew of volunteers arrive on Saturday.
"It's amazing. It's such a relief," Mannino said. "A lot of people think that the people who aren't back in their homes right now, they think it's because they're lazy and they haven't been trying and that we're choosing to live in these FEMA trailers. ... But that is not the case."
Robinson said the Mannino-Townsend home is the second one her organization has helped repair as a "community rebuilding" project with volunteer labor and donated materials. Robinson, who was out of her own home for eight months after the 2016 flood, said she wants to do similar projects quarterly.
Hayes said he was happy to help out on Saturday. He and some other Home Depot employees worked on Vital's first rebuilding project, which moved the grateful homeowner to tears, he said.
"A couple hours out of your day really makes somebody's day," Hayes said.
As for Mannino, she is eagerly waiting for the day she and her family — especially little Carrie Anne — can leave the FEMA trailer for good.
"She's not going to know what to do with herself, having all that room," Mannino said. "She can't run in that trailer without running into something or falling over something, and here — it's not a huge house, but to her, it's going to be like a play land."