Two years later, Princess Fannie and her family became one of thousands of families left homeless after Hurricane Katrina. "When we found out Katrina was coming, I was able to pile 12 of my relatives into the van that Oprah gave me, and we were able to get out," she says. "I said, 'If it hadn't been for Oprah Winfrey, we wouldn't have gotten out of here.'"
Before evacuating, Fannie says she made sure to take one prized possession with her—her tiara. "As crowded as [the van] was with kids, I didn't want it stepped on, so I put it on. I made sure it was safe," she says.
Fannie and her family returned home three months later to find her neighborhood destroyed. "We lost everything," she says. "All we had left was the bricks and the floors."
In November 2006, Fannie and her husband started living in a FEMA trailer on their property. Fannie doesn't want to leave because there's no one else to protect her home, which is under construction. "I just look for the day that I can get out of here, go in the house and have somewhere for my kids to come," she says. "That's the hardest part, being here by myself without my kids."
Although work on Fannie's home was supposed to be finished in December 2007, she's still hopeful. "I'm still waiting to take a deep breath," she says. "I haven't done that yet. Not since August 29, ."