Local Hurricane Katrina survivor builds ‘tiny home’ for Hurricane Michael survivors

New Mexico News

A New Mexico woman who is no stranger to tragedy has dedicated her life to saving animals, and is now helping two complete strangers who recently lost everything.

“The eye and both walls hit where we lived. It destroyed everything we had and we were desperate for quite a while afterward,” said Skye Heilman, who just arrived in New Mexico Thursday night.

Heilman and her mom, Krystal Schoener, lost everything in Hurricane Michael. The category four storm hit Florida’s panhandle five weeks ago.

Out of desperation, Heilman, who has always worked with animals, pleaded for a job and a place to stay in an ‘animal sanctuary’ group on Facebook.

“I described what situation we were in and that we were willing to work with animals like we’d done before,” said Heilman.

Out of all the people in the group, it caught the eye of Cynthia Dares, the director of Sunflower Sanctuary in Tijeras.

“We called them and they said yes we’d love to come,” said Dares.

Their story stuck out because it is remarkably similar to what Dares was going through 13 years ago.

“I know what it was like because I lived in Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans for six months. It was very hard and I couldn’t wait to get out,” said Dares.

That’s when Dares moved to New Mexico and she says a stranger took a chance on her. Now, she’s returning the favor.

“It’s just a lot of work to do,” said Dares.

Dares is walking through a partially finished ‘tiny home’ she’s building for Heilman and Schoener.

“This is the living room and kitchen. It’s going to be a full house,” said Dares.

Dares was hoping to have the home finished by the time they got here, but they ran out of money and are hoping for donations.

Even though their new home isn’t finished yet, the mother and daughter are still thankful for everything that’s happened so far.

“I have to say my appreciation runs very deep,” said Schoener.

“I love this place and I couldn’t be happier,” said Heilman.

If you’d like to help finish building the tiny home, click here to contact Sunflower Sanctuary.

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