When disaster forced Blaine to leave the only home he’d ever known, he recalled a feeling of peace he felt while visiting Colorado Springs a few years prior.
“I don’t have anything to go back to in Louisiana,” he said. “I had to go somewhere, and this seemed like as good a place as any.”
On August 29th, the 150-mile-per-hour winds of a Category-4 hurricane made landfall near his home in Calcasieu Parish. Hurricane Ida killed 115 people and caused upwards of $75 billion in property damage — the state’s second worst after Katrina in 2005.
“A lot of people had to evacuate, and a lot of people lost everything,” Blaine said. “I guess you could say I was one of them.”
Blaine grew up the eighth of 10 kids in the rural South. His parents were married for more than 50 years and set good examples for Blaine and his many siblings.
“I had a good role model in my father and a good, moral woman in my mother,” he said. “My father worked in the oil field after he got out of the Army. He was infantry in Korea, was wounded and received some medals there. He was the most moral man I’ve ever known.”
Blaine described his younger self as a “high-strung country kid.” Boyhood rebellion later led to drinking at an early age, difficulties at school and trouble with the law.
“When I was 16, I quit school and just started my own life,” he said. “I was working as a roofer and moved out on my own.”
Over the next couple of decades, Blaine struggled. He was a hard worker, but also a hard drinker. Eventually, his battles with alcoholism led to jail-time that spanned into his thirties.
“There was a hole in me that I was trying to fill,” he said. “I think I had a lot of anger about things from my childhood and feelings that I didn’t know how to deal with. But I did counseling while I was in there and began looking at some things differently.”
After his last stint in jail, Blaine longed to reconnect with his aging father. After the death of his mother, he decided to move in to keep him company and repair the family house after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“He was older and he didn’t want to be alone,” Blaine said. “I’m so glad I did that, because we probably got closer than we ever were.”
Blaine continued to live in the house after his father’s death. But when the family chose to sell, he struggled to find his footing. In 2021, Hurricane Ida cemented his decision to leave Louisiana for good.
“I love Louisiana,” he said. “Those are the best people ever down there, but it’s got it’s challenges. I felt like it was time for me to move on and find something new.”
Now 53, Blaine arrived in Colorado Springs last September and made his way to Springs Rescue Mission. He quickly learned the ropes, joined work engagement (doing laundry for other guests in the Resource Center) and moved into the men’s shelter. A hardworking country boy at heart, it makes him happy to give back.
“I know I’ve got my part to do, and I’m glad do it,” he said.
These days, Blaine is settling into his new life in the West. He goes to church on Sundays and works to better himself daily.
“I’m sober, I’m happier and I’ve got more joy,” he said. “I’m not sure what the Lord’s got for me. But God knows what he’s doing. It all depends on what you choose to do with it.”
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Visit springsrescuemission.org/gss to learn more.