7 Years Later - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

7 Years Later

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PINEVILLE, La.—Even as the New Orleans area had to deal with Hurricane Isaac this year, residents past and present will always remember this day as the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. For one Pineville woman, that storm changed her life forever - in a good way. News Channel Five's Al Quartemont has her story.

"So I know what it's like to be homeless, hungry, and thirsty," says Madonna Leblanc.

We first met Madonna Leblanc seven years ago.... A Katrina evacuee from Gentilly, Leblanc, her mother and daughter were finally rescued from the Superdome and brought by bus to a temporary shelter in Pineville - more than three hours and a couple hundred miles away from the life she would never return to again.

"So I was telling my mom, riding, this is a nice place, and then watching what devastation happened to New Orleans. At the time, I had a young one, only ten years old in sixth grade, and I knew that the city of New Orleans could not offer her a decent education," Leblanc says.

What Leblanc could not have known then was how different her life would be today, working at that shelter constantly was Pineville Mayor Clarence Fields.

"And I was shocked because I'd seen him sweeping, mopping, when the Red Cross delivered the lunches every day, he would serve food. It amazed me that the mayor was doing all these kinds of things," she tells us.

"She possessed the qualities that we felt like would be utilized here at City Hall. That's proven to be something kind of special. Particularly with Isaac approaching, we get a better sense of how people feel and what people go through, because of what she encountered," Pineville Mayor Clarence Fields tells us.

Already determined not to go back to New Orleans, Leblanc was offered a temporary job by mayor fields. That temporary became permanent as she serves today as Pineville's special events coordinator.

"So that was like the last piece of the puzzle. I'd already decided to stay for my child's education and my mother's healthcare and so the job was the icing on the cake," she says.

Seven years later, Leblanc is a fixture at Pineville's Municipal Building - on this day adding cook to her duties - preparing lunch and dinner for city workers on hand to respond to Isaac. Interestingly enough, work similar to that she used to have back in New Orleans - when she worked for both mayors.

In fact, in our interview seven years ago, Leblanc seemed prophetic about where she'd be today.

"I've always worked for a politician," she told us 7 years ago.

In this case, it was a wish come true... far from the way she could have ever expected.

Two other updates, Leblanc's mother passed away in 2010. Her daughter, Megan, went on to graduate from Pineville High School this past spring.

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