Habitat helping veterans in two counties
Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 4, 2017
By Cassandra Favre
The Sea Coast Echo
United States Air Force and Vietnam veteran John Storms lives a self-proclaimed life of “penance and humility” in Bay St. Louis.
He was the recipient of his own miracle the day Angela Eastin, Program Manager at Habitat for Humanity Bay-Waveland Area, Inc., contacted him about Habitat for Humanity’s Veterans Critical Home Repair program.
“She’s a wonderful lady,” he said. “She found me and she’s taken care of me.”
A team of volunteers from Picayune’s Team Depot and Habitat for Humanity on Feb. 21 began making necessary repairs to Storms’ home.
Storms – a native of Independence, Missouri – was born two blocks away from President Harry Truman’s house.
“He once took me to Clinton’s Soda Shop and bought me a Coke,” Storms said.
In 1969, Storms joined the United States Air Force. During his military career, Storms was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi as a field medic.
That was when, he said, he “fell in love with the Gulf Coast and Cajun cuisine.”
In 1974, after he left the Air Force, Storms lost about 50 percent of the use of his right arm.
He said he was shot with a 12-gauge shotgun when someone tried to rob the convenience store where he worked. Doctors were able to reattach his arm, he said.
For the next 30 years, Storms worked as a security manager and part-time coroner at the Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
During his career, Storms said, a mental health patient kicked him in the knee, which left him partially disabled.
After years at the medical center, Storms said, he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.
“Working in trauma, I’ve seen too much sadness and ugliness,” he said.
In 2002, Storms moved to Bay St. Louis but evacuated to Independence to escape Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
After the hurricane, Storms intended to drive a motor home back to Bay St. Louis to use as a temporary home.
Storms’ also suffered an injury to his foot during a vehicle accident resulting in it being crushed into about 138 pieces, he said.
“They tried to fix it at the VA hospital in Kansas City,” he said. “When I got here, I got a staph infection and they took part of my right leg.”
Storms now uses a motorized chair to get around. However, his bathroom is not handicapped-accessible and the carpeting in his home makes it difficult to move around.
Also, the floor in his home needs to be reinforced, he said.
According to a release from Habitat for Humanity Bay-Waveland Area, Inc., the Veterans Critical Home Repair program, which is funded by The Home Depot, helps to “build, rehabilitate or repair homes in partnership with U.S. military veterans and their families.”
Volunteers from Picayune’s Team Depot and Scott Gill of Gill and Co. Builders, LLC performed the renovations to Storms’ home.
The team used plywood to reinforce Storms’ flooring, pulled the carpet and installed tile flooring, lowered the kitchen sink and counters and installed a handicapped-accessible toilet and shower in the bathroom.
The majority of the work was completed days later, Eastin said.
“I love helping my customers and I love volunteering and helping the community,” Picayune’s Team Depot volunteer Maria Redondo said. “It’s great to see their happy faces and have the support they need. I do appreciate Home Depot and how they support veterans, military and the people who need them.”
Veterans must pay five percent of the costs, work 10 “sweat equity” hours and serve community service hours as a requirement to receive the assistance, Eastin said.
However, The Dock Bar and Grill in Gulfport paid for Storms’ portion, the release states. His volunteer and sweat equity hours were also donated by others, Eastin said.
Storms said he believes Habitat for Humanity and Home Depot are doing “God’s work.”
“He is working through them to bless me,” he said. “It makes me feel like I’m surrounded by angels. If you have trust in God and wait, if you’ve done right by him, then he’s going to send you angels.”
The program is open to veterans who have served or currently serve in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines or Coast Guard living in Hancock and Pearl River counties, Eastin said.
For more information about the program, contact Eastin at 228-467-9699.
Learn more about Habitat for Humanity Bay-Waveland Area, Inc. and The Home Depot Foundation at www.habitatbw.org. and www.homedepot.com/teamdepot.