Hurricane Katrina 10 years later: How Brad Pitt's foundation gave one family a second chance

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How Brad Pitt's Foundation Is Still Helping New Orleans 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina

Nearly 10 years ago, Brad Pitt rushed into New Orleans to help those displaced by Hurricane Katrina through his Make It Right Foundation. Now, ET has an update with one of the families who were given a second chance.

Make It Right homeowner Leslie Archie, an elementary school teacher, had lived in New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward for 45 years before Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, leaving her house demolished. Like many families in the neighborhood, Leslie's home was handed down to her from her parents and she didn't have a way to rebuild it herself.

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This forced Leslie, 55, and her daughter to move into a FEMA trailer, which they parked in Leslie's brother's driveway for several years until she met with Make It Right's homeowner services in 2010. The foundation helped put Leslie, her daughter Lakiwa and Leslie's three grandchildren, Kaleah, Demori and Dalonte in a new home.

"When I found out Brad Pitt was building homes then I said, 'Oh, I want one of those homes,'" Leslie told ET. "When we went to closing we came straight to this house and we slept in here and we haven't left."

Photos of Pitt's trips to New Orleans:

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Katrina 10 year: Brad Pitt in NOLA
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Hurricane Katrina 10 years later: How Brad Pitt's foundation gave one family a second chance
Steven Bingler (L), one of the architects of the new houses to be built in the Lower 9th Ward, meets with US actor Brad Pitt (R) 03 December 2007 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The two met in a display room that shows the many designs by different architects for Pitt's 'Make It Right Project.' More than two years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Lower 9th Ward, Pitt plans to spend USD12 million to build 150 new homes. AFP PHOTO/Matthew HINTON (Photo credit should read Matthew HINTON/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JULY 13: (***EXCLUSIVE*** PREMIUM PRICING APPLIES, MUST CALL; U.S. TABS OUT) Actor Brad Pitt, Dean of Architecture at Tulane Reed Kroloff and council member Cynthia Willard-Lewis (r) visit areas affected by hurricane Katrina during a trip to lobby government officials to increase the speed of re-construction on July 13, 2006 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Pitt and Global Green USA created a sustainable design architecture competition to showcase affordable, energy-efficient construction. The competition drew entries from around the world. (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - MARCH 05: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and actor Brad Pitt speak to the media following a meeting to discuss the 'Make it Right' project on March 5, 2009 in Washington, DC. The project, launched in 2007, helps to construct affordable and environmentally-sustainable housing for low-income residents of the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans who lost their homes as a result of Hurricane Katrina. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
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On the Make It Right website, Leslie calls the new home "a blessing" and cites her lowered power bill as a plus. Utility costs are cheaper for Make It Right homeowners, as every house comes with solar, significantly reducing energy costs.

The Lower 9th Ward suffered the most devastation when one of the city's levees collapsed, leading to mass flooding and the loss of 1,800 lives. When Pitt visited the neighborhood two years after the disaster, there was still plenty of progress to be made, so he took it upon himself to help those who were still struggling to recover.

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"These are families like yours and mine, who have been left in limbo," Pitt told ET's Kevin Frazier in 2007. "That's what this is designed to do. It's a practical way to get people in homes."

Enlisting the help of architects like Frank Gehry and Shigeru Ban, Make It Right began building eco-friendly, green homes that were affordable, but also carried personal touches from the homeowners who were allowed input in the design process.

Related: New buildings and ongoing construction in New Orleans:

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Katrina 10 year: New buildings and ongoing construction
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Hurricane Katrina 10 years later: How Brad Pitt's foundation gave one family a second chance
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 24: Esther Joseph (R) stands in her home which is being rebuilt with the help of volunteers from lowernine.org in the Lower Ninth Ward on August 24, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The area was one of the most heavily devastated areas of the city following a levee breach during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Volunteer coordinator Darren McKinney looks out the window of a hurricane damaged home, being rebuilt in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans August 17, 2015. McKinney works for lowernine.org, an organization aiding residents rebuild their homes. Ten years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, the scars left behind are fading in a city that is forever changed. Brass bands still parade through neighborhoods, pulling dancing locals and tourists in their wake. But the flavor of this southern coastal city that was once more Afro-Caribbean and Creole than American has been altered. AFP PHOTO / LEE CELANO (Photo credit should read LEE CELANO/AFP/Getty Images)
Volunteer coordinator Darren McKinney works on a hurricane damaged home in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans August 17, 2015. McKinney works for lowernine.org, an organization aiding residents rebuild their homes. Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina swept buildings off their foundations and deluged nearly all of New Orleans with floodwaters which rose so fast some people drowned in their homes. Those who made it to their rooftops or the relative safety of dry land waited days to be rescued as the Big Easy descended into chaos. Today, colorful homes on stilts have replaced many of the rotting hulks left behind after the low-lying coastal city in the southern United States was finally drained. AFP PHOTO / LEE CELANO (Photo credit should read LEE CELANO/AFP/Getty Images)
Workers repair a damaged footing on the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier on lake Borgne in New Orleans on August 17, 2015. Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina swept buildings off their foundations and deluged nearly all of New Orleans with floodwaters which rose so fast some people drowned in their homes. Those who made it to their rooftops or the relative safety of dry land waited days to be rescued as the Big Easy descended into chaos. Today, colorful homes on stilts have replaced many of the rotting hulks left behind after the low-lying coastal city in the southern United States was finally drained. AFP PHOTO / LEE CELANO (Photo credit should read LEE CELANO/AFP/Getty Images)
Volunteer coordinator Darren McKinney (foreground) takes a break as he works on a hurricane damaged home in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans on August 17, 2015. McKinney works for lowernine.org, an organization aiding residents rebuild their homes. Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina swept buildings off their foundations and deluged nearly all of New Orleans with floodwaters which rose so fast some people drowned in their homes. Those who made it to their rooftops or the relative safety of dry land waited days to be rescued as the Big Easy descended into chaos. Today, colorful homes on stilts have replaced many of the rotting hulks left behind after the low-lying coastal city in the southern United States was finally drained. AFP PHOTO / LEE CELANO (Photo credit should read LEE CELANO/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JULY 22: A new high school is being built in the Lower Ninth Ward, on July 22, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. It's been ten years since hurricane Katrina devastated neighborhoods throughout the city. This area was wiped out when this levee broke after the storm. Schools are just one of many things being improved post Katrina. While many homes have been rebuilt, there are still many empty lots where homes used to stand. (Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JULY 22: A new high school is being built in the Lower Ninth Ward, on July 22, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. It's been ten years since hurricane Katrina devastated neighborhoods throughout the city. This area was wiped out when this levee broke after the storm. Schools are just one of many things being improved post Katrina. While many homes have been rebuilt, there are still many empty lots where homes used to stand. (Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 28: Construction workers from Honduras and Mexico work on new houses in the Lower Ninth Ward, on May 28, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. This neighborhood was destroyed when the nearby industrial canal levy broke during hurricane Katrina. Brad Pitt's Make it Right Foundation has been building many homes in this area - including these. The foundation builds sustainable homes for people in need. It has been almost 10 years since Katrina hit New Orleans, devastating many neighborhoods. Rebuilding has been slow and controversial. (Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 28: Construction workers from Honduras and Mexico work on new houses in the Lower Ninth Ward, on May 28, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. This neighborhood was destroyed when the nearby industrial canal levy broke during hurricane Katrina. Brad Pitt's Make it Right Foundation has been building many homes in this area - including these. The foundation builds sustainable homes for people in need. It has been almost 10 years since Katrina hit New Orleans, devastating many neighborhoods. Rebuilding has been slow and controversial. (Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 18: A storm gate stands as construction continues on the 17th Street Canal pump station on May 18, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The 17th Street Canal levee was breached during Hurricane Katrina and the Army Corps of Engineers are engaged in the ongoing efforts to rebuild and fortify the regional levee system. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 18: Workers construct a new 'Make it Right Foundation' home along the rebuilt Industrial Canal levee wall in the Lower Ninth Ward on May 18, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The levee was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina and people have been slowly moving back to the formerly devastated neighborhood ever since. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 12: Partially demolished buildings of the B.W. Cooper housing projects are shown on May 12, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The projects were damaged by Hurricane Katrina flooding but sections are only now being town down. The low-income housing development has finally been replaced by two-story, townhouse-style buildings nearby. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1,836 people and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 15: Esther Joseph sweeps in her flood damaged home which is still being rebuilt in the Lower Ninth Ward on May 15, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She hopes to move into the house when completed by the end of the year. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 15: French volunteers with lowernine.org help rebuild a home heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina flooding in the Lower Ninth Ward on May 15, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Residents continue to slowly return to the Lower Ninth Ward although much of the area remains uninhabited. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 15: Ohio State student volunteers with lowernine.org help rebuild a home heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina flooding in the Lower Ninth Ward on May 15, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Residents continue to slowly return to the Lower Ninth Ward although much of the area remains uninhabited. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 12: A home destroyed by Hurricane Katrina flooding waits to be demolished in the Lower Ninth Ward on May 12, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The area was heavily damaged during Hurricane Katrina and people have been slowly moving back to the formerly devastated neighborhood ever since. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 12: A work crew demolishes buildings at the B.W. Cooper housing projects on May 12, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The projects were damaged by Hurricane Katrina flooding but sections are only now being town down. The low-income housing development has finally been replaced by two-story, townhouse-style buildings nearby. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
One of the modular houses built by the Brad Pitt's Make It Right Foundation is seen in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans on February 5, 2013. Pitt rasied $30 million for the project that consists of hurricane-proof homes. The Ninth Ward area suffered the worst damage from Hurricane Katrina that occured in 2005 after multiple breaches in the levees of at least four canals. As of March 2009, hundreds of houses have been rebuilt, and dozens of new homes have been constructed. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
A vacant house sits in front of One of the modular houses built by the Brad Pitt's Make It Right Foundation in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans on February 5, 2013. Pitt rasied $30 million for the project that consists of hurricane-proof homes. This area suffered the worst damage from Hurricane Katrina that occured in 2005 after multiple breaches in the levees of at least four canals. As of March 2009, hundreds of houses have been rebuilt, and dozens of new homes have been constructed. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 13: New Orleans home owner Ms. Mary Rush (C) walks through her house that is being completely rebuilt after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina at the IrvingMorris/United Way/NFL Saints: Hope For The Holiday Rebuild at Private Residence on December 13, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Skip Bolen/WireImage for United Way)
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"Brad Pitt invested in the Lower 9th Ward at a time where we were probably at our lowest," Rep. Wesley Bishop told ET.

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Make It Right community outreach manager Tanya Harris was born and raised in the Lower 9th Ward and has been a leader in the post-Katrina rebuilding efforts.

"My family and I lost everything we owned," Harris told ET. "We lost friends and family, unfortunately. We lost a sense of community. It was a very tragic period in our lives."

Today, Make It Right has built "109 homes and counting," according to Harris.

"We are people who are very fortunate, and if we can share a little of that, I think there's no greater gift," Pitt told ET.

To learn more about the Make It Right Foundation, visit their website makeitright.org.

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