Katrina clean-up nets home owner $30,000 from the wall

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The Independent US

When volunteers with a church mission volunteered recently to help gut a New Orleans house damaged by last year's Hurricane Katrina, they didn't know it would contain a lot more than the expected tide marks and creeping blotches of mould. This home, it turned out, also had a surprising lining of gold.

Trista Wright, a 19-year-old student from Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, made the discovery while raking up crumbled plaster from walls inside one of the house's bedrooms. There, poking out from the rubble, lay a very old and dusty one-hundred-dollar bill.

Ms Wright, who had volunteered to work in New Orleans during her annual spring break, wondered where it had come from. She began pulling away more of the wall that surrounded an old air conditioning unit and, lo and behold, hiding behind it were still more of the notes - scores of them, in fact.

What she found was a stack of bills, measuring about six inches high. While the bills were clearly antique, there seemed little doubt that they would still be legal tender. When the column of notes was counted, it added up to no less than $30,000.

Astonished by her discovery, she contacted the mission that had organised the project, and the mission, in turn, informed the local sheriff's office, which passed on the happy news to the house's owner, a New Orleans woman who has asked to remain anonymous. "She was speechless," said Ms Wright.

According to parish records, the woman had inherited the home from her father, who had first lived in it during the Depression. It appears that he and his wife shared the suspicion held by many at the time of the banking system in the United States and had preferred to stash their not inconsiderable savings under the proverbial mattress. More specifically, they had concealed them behind a wall of Sheetrock.

The money, the owner said, would go towards restoring the house to its original glory.