They say lightning never strikes the same place twice, but try telling that to Melanie Martinez.
Dubbed "America's unluckiest woman," the Louisiana native and school bus driver lost her fifth home last week to a hurricane.
This time, Martinez witnessed herself as Hurricane Isaac pummeled her Braithwaite, La. home while she and her family huddled in the attic.
They had been trying to evacuate when her truck broke down, leaving them no other option than to stay behind and watch.
"We thought we were going to die in that house," she told the Guardian. "The water was coming up so fast. My husband used a hammer to put a hole in the roof but it broke. We used our hands and feet to punch the hole."
When the storm passed, they faced the all too-familiar wreckage. Martinez lost four other homes in the last 50 years Hurricanes Betsy (1965), Juan (1985), George (1998), and Katrina (2005).
To add insult to injury, A&E reality show Hideous Houses had selected her home for a $20,000 makeover just a few months before. Though she's considering moving to a home on higher ground this time around, Martinez is still hesitant to leave Louisiana.
"I was born here," she said. "It's home, home, home."
Supporters of the Martinez family have created a PayPal account for donations to help them rebuild.
When Hurricane Isaac made landfall on Aug. 28, Melanie and her family were ordered to evacuate their Braithwaite, La. home.
But as the flood waters closed in, her truck broke down, leaving them to seek refuge in their attic.
"We thought we were going to die in that house," she said.
It was a neighbor who rescued the trio by breaking into the attic after the storm passed.
She's no stranger to disaster. Isaac was the fifth hurricane to leave her homeless.
She lost four other homes to Hurricanes Betsy (1965), Juan (1985), and George (1998) and Katrina (2005).
In an ironic twist, just a few months ago the home was given a $20,000 makeover and featured on A&E reality show "Hideous Houses."
When Melanie and her family returned Sept. 3 to assess the damage, little was left to be salvaged.
Melanie and her daughter used this boat to carry supplies saved from the house.
Her home was among 13,000 damaged by Isaac in the U.S.
Reminders from the flood stayed long after the waters receded.
Melanie's husband, Philip Martinez Sr. and his son, Philip, walk through the wreckage.
Homeless or not, Melanie still has a sense of humor. She renamed the family cat Isaac.
And she isn't making plans to leave Louisiana. "I was born here," she said. "It's home, home, home."
- Home & Garden
- Melanie Martinez