SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Rodney Granger is building a home in a new city, and he has a new job. Granger, a former resident of the New Orleans Lakeview suburb – one of the hardest hit neighborhoods by Hurricane Katrina – evacuated from Louisiana shortly after the hurricane and has been living in San Antonio with relatives since Sept. 3. With more than 22 years banking experience, Granger hired on as a full-time teller with Security Service Federal Credit Union. Following three weeks of training, Granger began work Oct. 15 at the credit union's Windcrest location. Granger stayed in his home near Lake Ponchartrain through the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, but when Texas relatives pleaded with him to get out the next day, he followed their warning – a move that proved to be the right choice. Rodney's home in the upscale neighborhood of Lakeview was completely destroyed when the 17th Street Canal Levee broke loose. Granger's hesitancy to leave his home revolved around the 65 parrots that resided with him there, most of them in a shed in his yard. A banker by trade, Granger bred parrots as a hobby and couldn't bear the thought of leaving "his animals." Ultimately, he moved the 55 adult parrots inside his home and left what he hoped would be enough food to last until he returned. He took the 10 baby parrots with him in plastic tubs in the car. "After talking to my relatives, I started getting scared. I'd heard growing up that we're in a soup bowl. If the levees break, we're in trouble," Granger said. Granger stayed the next couple of nights in Kenner at his mother's house, but both of them then left to stay with relatives in Houston before heading to San Antonio. "The atmospheric pressure and rocks from the road busted out the windows in my car, so we drove to Houston with no windows," he said. Six weeks later, Granger has not yet returned to his New Orleans home. The insurance company declared the home a total loss, and he has already received a check from them. The birds he left behind did not make it, and reportedly nothing in the house is worth going back for except a few items that were stored in his attic. Rodney worked for Bank of Louisiana for 22 years, the last 17 in data processing. Most of the institution's branches were destroyed in the hurricane, according to Granger, so not much to return to there, either. So Rodney decided to start his life anew in San Antonio. Some sources estimate the number of individuals temporarily unemployed as a result of Hurricane Katrina at as many as half a million to one million. A number of these individuals are making completely fresh starts in new cities with employers who have extended a hand out to help. Granger found the credit union position on a local news station's Web site that listed businesses open to hiring individuals displaced by the hurricane. Security Service Federal Credit Union has hired three Katrina survivors, thus far. "After realizing the enormous devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, SSFCU felt it needed to offer immediate assistance to the evacuees sent to San Antonio. We were proud to assist in direct relief efforts by raising money and donating a 15-passenger van to the American Red Cross. Being able to hire three employees that were displaced by the hurricane was an added bonus to our efforts," said John Worthington, SSFCU's senior vice president, corporate communications. Granger is not looking back. He has a job, a new home, family members nearby and 10 baby parrots to re-start his breeding business. "I can't go back to New Orleans. I don't think I could enjoy my summers worrying about hurricanes," said Granger. "I'm a fighter. I'm not going to feel sorry for myself. The credit union has been great, and I love San Antonio." [email protected]

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