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Advice from a survivor

Katrina taught a hard lesson, Bailey says

Shileta Bailey has four words for the people affected by the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey: “God doesn’t make mistakes.”

“I know that may not be what they want to hear right now,” said Bailey, whose family fled from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and landed in Pilot Point.

“It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but I’m a firm believer that God has a plan for us all.”

After Katrina hit Louisiana in 2005, Bailey and her family were gridlocked in Monroe for more than two hours before making it to Shreveport. As Bailey left the place she called home, she sank deep into a pool of despair and anxiety.

“I was devastated,” she said.

“I was scared. I didn’t know what to do next.”

Fortunately, Bailey received a call from a relative in Houston who knew a family willing to help. “My aunt let me know there was a family in Dallas who wanted to help us out with housing,” Bailey said. “They owned a property in Pilot Point, so they rented it out to us.”

Two years later, a fire destroyed their home, bringing Bailey back to square one. The fire dealt Bailey a blow that left her broken.

“I felt lost,” she said. “Even though I survived a tragedy, after the fire I didn’t understand why I was still alive. At that point I wondered why I wasn’t left to die like the others in Louisiana.”

Following the fire, Bailey and her family received a check from the American Red Cross to live in a hotel in Coppell before finding another house in Pilot Point.

At that moment, Bailey’s luck started to change for the better. “One day I was at Dollar General shopping and a gentleman overheard me talking about buying things for the house and he insisted to buy my groceries,” she said.

“After that, he said he would notify some people that we were here. “By the next day, my empty house was fully fur- nished with everything from TVs to couches to beds. The community of Pilot Point made us feel 100 percent welcome,” she said.

The love and support Bailey received was over- whelming. “I cried for days,” she said. “I’ve never been treated with so much love before. These people knew nothing about me except that I was an evacuee.

“That Christmas, a family bought each of us presents, and one day, a lady volunteered to take me out for a spa day.

Another time, a family bought us lunch. There were so many times someone stepped up to help us. I’m forever thankful for what Pilot Point has done for my family,” she said.

Bailey’s son, Dacoven, graduated from Pilot Point High School last year and received a football scholarship from Rutgers. Bailey caught his first touchdown last Thursday night against Washington.

Bailey’s daughter, Debria, is a sophomore. She participates in track, basketball and volleyball for the high school.

Bailey is a DSD clerk at Brookshire’s in Pilot Point. She said her company donated toiletries and other items to the victims of the hurricane. She personally donated items to her church, County Line Baptist, because she felt the need to give back.

“I’ve been blessed by the people of Pilot Point so I want d to give back,” she said.

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